【英语中国】严重雾霾“封锁”北京 Toxic smog raises Beijing pollution fears

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2014-2-27 08:54

小艾摘要: Northern China is braced for more days of hazardous air quality following a week of toxic smog in Beijing that has consistently averaged more than 16 times the World Health Organisation’s recommended ...
Toxic smog raises Beijing pollution fears
Northern China is braced for more days of hazardous air quality following a week of toxic smog in Beijing that has consistently averaged more than 16 times the World Health Organisation’s recommended upper limit.

On Tuesday, the WHO representative in China described the choking pollution as a “crisis” and urged residents in the Chinese capital to stay home and “basically cope with it as much as possible”.

For the first time since it introduced an emergency smog alert system in October, the Beijing government issued an “amber alert”, its second-highest warning level, last Friday and then reissued the same alert on Monday.

But it has stopped short of issuing a red alert, which would require schools to shut down, industrial companies to close and half the city’s cars to stay off the streets, even though the smog levels appear to meet the government’s own criteria for such action.

On Tuesday, the environmental group Greenpeace launched a public campaign to pressure the government to raise the warning level to red.

“[Northern China] has already had air pollution readings beyond the index for many days but the warning level remains at amber? No factories stopped production, no classes cancelled, no limits on cars and no announcements of which factories have stopped production,” Greenpeace said on its official Weibo microblog account. “We call for a red alert smog warning now.”

The decision to raise the alert level to red can only be taken by an “emergency response committee” of municipal officials and even though air quality appears to meet the criteria, the government seems unwilling to bring the capital to a halt.

According to the new warning system introduced in October, the government should issue a red alert when the volume of fine pollutants in the air is forecast to exceed 300 micrograms per cubic metre for three consecutive days.

Since last Friday, the volume has barely dropped below 400 and on Tuesday afternoon the reading was around 460, a level described as “hazardous” to the general population and especially dangerous for young people, the elderly and those with breathing problems.

“In a situation when you have very bad air, as we have right now, the discussion must be primarily how we can protect the individual,” Dr Bernhard Schwartl?nder, WHO Representative in Beijing, told journalists at a press briefing on China’s health reforms on Tuesday.

“Of course the longer term discussion on how we can reduce the levels of emissions is a very important one but right now we have a crisis that we have to deal with and hence the recommendation to stay inside.”

As it raised the warning level to amber last Friday, the Beijing government said it had advised schools to cancel outdoor activities and ordered 36 industrial companies to halt production, with another 75 told to cut production to reduce emissions.

But the situation deteriorated over the weekend and by Monday the “airpocalypse” covered an area across northern China of around 1m sq kms, roughly equal to the combined area of the US states of California, Oregon, Washington and half of Nevada.

At the press briefing on Tuesday, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, Dr Shin Young-soo, pointed out that some studies published recently in Beijing show lung cancer rates in the capital have doubled in the past decade or so.

Although it is unclear how much of the increase was caused by air pollution, Dr Shin did point out that there is already a wealth of evidence linking high levels of pollutants to increased rates of cardiovascular and lung disease.

Additional Reporting by Gu Yu

中国北方在今后几天将继续面对有害的空气质量。此前,有毒雾霾持续笼罩北京已有一周,污染物含量平均为世界卫生组织(WHO)建议上限的逾16倍。

周二,世卫组织驻华代表形容令人窒息的污染是一场“危机”,敦促中国首都的居民待在家里,“基本上就是尽可能地挺过去”。

自去年10月《北京市空气重污染应急预案(试行)》发布以来,北京市政府上周五首次发布“橙色预警”,这是第二高的预警等级,并在本周一再度发布“橙色预警”。

但北京市政府尚未发布“红色预警”(这种最高预警等级将要求学校停课、工业企业停产、市内一半汽车不能上路),尽管雾霾水平似乎达到了政府自己设定的采取此类行动的标准。

周二,环保组织“绿色和平”(Greenpeace)发起了一场向政府施压的公共宣传活动,要求将预警等级升级至红色。

“京津冀已经是天天爆表的节奏了,还停留在橙色预警?没有停工停课,没有汽车限行,没有公布北京及河北地区停工的工厂是哪些。”绿色和平在其官方微博(Sina Weibo)上表示,“呼吁拉响红色预警。”

将预警等级升至红色的决定,只能由“应急委员会”的市政官员作出。尽管空气质量似乎已符合红色预警的标准,但政府看来不愿让首都停摆。

根据去年10月发布的新的预警机制,若预期空气中的微小污染物含量将连续三天超过每立方米300微克,政府就应当发布红色预警。

自上周五以来,污染物含量很少跌破400,本周二下午的读数约为460,这一水平被认为对一般人群是“危险”的,尤其是年轻人、老年人和那些呼吸系统有问题的人。

“在你面对非常糟糕的空气的情况下——就像我们现在面对的情况——讨论的主要内容必须是我们如何保护个人,”世卫组织驻京代表施贺德博士(Dr Bernhard Schwartl?nder)周二在一个有关中国医疗改革的新闻发布会上对记者表示。

“当然,有关我们如何才能降低排放水平的较长期讨论是非常重要的,但现在我们有一场必须应对的危机,因此发出了待在室内的建议。”

上周五将预警等级升级至橙色时,北京市政府表示,已建议学校取消户外活动,责令36家工业企业停产,还要求另外75家企业减产,以降低排放。

但污染情况在上周末期间出现恶化,到了本周一,“末日空气”覆盖了中国北方大约100万平方公里的土地,大致相当于美国加利福尼亚州、俄勒冈州、华盛顿州和半个内华达州的面积的总和。

在周二的新闻发布会上,世卫组织西太平洋区主任申英秀博士(Dr Shin Young-soo)指出,近期在北京发布的一些研究显示,中国首都的肺癌发病率在过去10年左右的时间里增加了一倍。

虽然目前还不清楚这一增加在多大程度上是由空气污染引起的,但申英秀博士指出,已经有大量证据显示,高浓度的污染物与心血管和肺部疾病发病率的增加存在关联。

谷禹(Gu Yu)补充报道

译者/何黎

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