Some of the major priorities of China’s President Xi Jinping are to improve air quality, reduce poverty and fight financial risks. Late last year, a campaign was undertaken in northern China to reduce people’s dependence on fossil fuels that are used for heating homes. The campaign resulted into a public outcry after tens of thousands of Chinese families suffered from loss of heating during the long freezing winter.
Chinese officials removed the coal-fired boilers even if there were no replacements. The campaign required that the coal-fired boilers must be replaced by natural gas boilers. Industries were the biggest source of pollution but the second largest include the residential and commercial sectors that burn dirty coal for heating during winter.
Air pollution from smog inducing ozone and fine particles are affecting the economy each year by an estimated 267 billion Yuan ($38 billion) in the form of early deaths and reduced crop yields. According to Steve Yim Hung-lam, an assistant professor in geography and resources management department, the major sources of ground level ozone and fine respirable particulate pollution are the six sectors of the economy – industrial, residential and commercial, agriculture, power generation, ground transport and others like aviation and fires.
However, in a new research, the composition of pollutants in Beijing is changing. Nitrates which are potentially harmful pollutants that are emitted by cars and factories are now the main components of PM2.5, tiny atmospheric particulate matter, instead of sulphates and black carbon.
In order to reduce sulphates and black carbon, the government closed down factories and banned the use of coal-fired boilers in residential heating systems. The World Health Organization said that the levels of air pollution in many parts of the world like China are dangerously high. PM2.5 level in Beijing has risen to 226 micrograms per cubic meter to further deteriorate air quality.
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