Those data suggest that emissions of fine particulates are the biggest source of northern China’s haze. issued by the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection last year indicates that air quality in 265 of the 338 major Chinese cities exceeded the national health standard that year.
In response to the situation, the Beijing municipal government has imposed a strict car-control policy—it uses lottery draws to control new car ownership and limits how many cars are on the road on any given day—and banned coal burning in its urban areas since 2012. Yet the heavy coal consumption in neighboring Hebei province easily overshadows the effects of Beijing’s policy as air pollution drifts across the region.
The Community-Based Protest Against Industrial Air Pollution
However, when the self-help organization made an effort to persuade the local EPB to shut down all polluting enterprises, it encountered many obstacles. First, on August 19, 2008, the BBS online forum discussion topic titled “air pollution” was forbidden; residents could not access it to communicate. Second, rumors began to spread among residents, who criticized the bad performance of the self-help organization. Some residents suspected that the organization’s leaders had been bought off by polluting enterprises, or were connected to the local EPB. Third, residents who worked as civil servants were asked to desist from participating in the protest, or else face punishment by the local government, causing them to drop out of the self-organization group.
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Photo 9: Young children are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of indoor air pollution. Not only are they biologically more vulnerable than adults, but they may also spend more time near the sources of pollution – indoors and alongside women in the household who are cooking.
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Photo 8: A woman participant in our study is wearing a waist pack with a Personal Exposure Monitor (PEM) inside. The PEM actively collects 48hrs of PM2.5 mass on a filter which is later analysed. Woman are often the most exposed to household air pollution, particularly in this setting, as they spend the most time near the sources of pollution (i.e., cooking-heating stoves).
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Photo 7: A woman participant is having her pulse wave velocity taken by a member of our field staff. Some research indicates that exposure to air pollution is associated with increases in pulse wave velocity, which is an indicator of cardiovascular health.
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Although the Hangzhou Aidiya Arts & Crafts Company was shut down, residents found that the air quality did not substantially improve. “We were pretty sure that there must be other polluting enterprises in addition for the Hangzhou Blue Peafowl Chemical Fiber Company,” said one of the leaders of the self-help organization. Residents asked the local EPB to identify and punish more enterprises. However, the local authority’s detection report found that the emissions of other enterprises suspected of contributing to pollution (the majority of them state owned) were all in compliance with existing emission standards.
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Others expressed anger at the report’s focus on the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, saying it placed the blame unfairly on China’s impoverished farmers.