The local government has requested the residents of Kumamoto to stay indoors or wear protective masks when going outside due to the polluted smog drifting from China. The first official health warning has been issued as readings as high as 110 micrograms were recorded on Tuesday morning.
The government safe limit is at 35 micrograms and the environment ministry has instructed local authorities to alert their constituents if concentrations rise to 70 micrograms per hour. Residents in Kumamoto were asked to voluntarily stay home, the first since the new safety guidelines were released in February. The levels of PM2.5 (particulate matter that can be inhaled and may cause asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer and other illnesses) were above 85 and so the warning was issued, as per the prefecture spokesman. While it has not been confirmed, there was a strong possibility that the particulates came from China.
For the past weeks, a thick fog of pollution has enveloped Beijing and other Chinese cities. The toxic haze has been blamed on emissions from power stations and exhaust fumes from the world’s largest auto market. Japanese media reported last month that the swirl of pollution was heading Japan’s way, and this added to the strain on the complicated relationship between the two countries. Tokyo offered its technological expertise to help Beijing get the emissions under control, but China seemed reluctant to accept the offer. Kyodo News reported that the environment ministers of Japan, China and South Korea will be meeting in May to discuss ways to fight pollution.[ via Yahoo ]