China‘s rapidly growing economy based on heavy industry and development isn’t without its price, with pollution levels far beyond standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, this may no longer be China’s problem alone as the polluted air travels eastward, threatening to push Japan’s own pollution higher.
According to Dr. Toshimasa Ohara, head of Japan’s National Institute of Environmental Studies’ Centre for Regional Environmental Research, the levels of the health threatening PM2.5 air particles may reach 40 micrograms per cubic meter today or tomorrow. While the figure may seem small, it is almost twice as the 25 micrograms set by the WHO. In contrast, PM2.5 levels in Beijing are reported in the hundreds, causing smog in eastern portions of China. 100 flights at Beijing’s airport had to be cancelled yesterday due to visibility problems caused by the pollution. Ohara said that while an incoming Arctic cold front might improve the situation in China, it threatens to blow the pollution into the Pacific Ocean, threatening South Korea and Japan.
Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Atmospheric Physics research Dr. Wang Yuesi disputes the theory. According to him, most of the pollutants will end up in the ocean and those that do reach Japan will have very little effect given the landscape of the country. Ohara, however, indicated that the effects vary over the region and that those in western parts of the country nearer to China will be affected more than those in the east. Furthermore, he said that it is difficult to fully gauge the impact of China’s pollution due to insufficient data being given by China, forcing researchers to use only indirect means of estimating potential pollution levels.[ via SCMP ]