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China experiences worst smog of 2016


12-21-2016 05:27 BJT

Severe smog has continued to cover many parts of China, disrupting life in several cities. Pollution is forcast to peak today, with heavy haze expected to extend across 12 provinces, almost 15 percent of China's total land area. Authorities say it's the most severe and longest-lasting bout of smog this year.

The PM2.5 readings in many cities exceeded 500 micrograms per cubic meter while readings in the worst affected areas topped 1,000. But forecasters say the smog is expected to clear by Thursday.

China is experiencing the worst smog of the year, causing disruption to activities of hundreds of millions of people.

Schools, airports and highways have closed due to poor visibility. 

The Capital Airport suspended services between Monday night and Tuesday morning, resulting in more than one hundred flights canceled and dozens more delayed.

For most people living in northern cities, face masks and air purifiers are must-haves.

But now, 'smog cannons' are also helping to reduce dust created by the cement and construction industries.

However, some environmental experts disputed the cannons' effectiveness. They are suggesting the main reason for the heavy smog is a lack of air flow. And warmer than usual temperatures in recent days has prevented pollution from dispersing. 

"There is actual mutual influence of the internal pollution transmission between Beijing and its neighboring areas. So the joint defense or control in the entire region is very important," said Wang Zifa, researcher of Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Science.

In addition to the disputed smog cannons, local authorities have also introduced a raft of measures, including restrictions on vehicle use, to help cut emissions.

However, forecasters warn these efforts probably won't be enough to get rid of the smog completely and will only provide limited relief.

The country’s top legislature is working to upgrade the current pollutant discharge fee system to a coercive and legally binding law, which will tax air and other pollutants at different rates.

But it will take time to see whether it proves effective in fighting what is at the moment, a losing battle. 

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