Though some Chinese media is still reporting the smog blanket currently engulfing Beijing as nothing more than a serious fog, the U.S. Embassy pollution monitoring index registered the city’s air as Beyond Index at 7pm Sunday night, with the level remaining at Hazardous since then.
Average visibility in the city has been between 1 to 3 kilometers, with some areas in the south of Beijing having a visibility under 500 meters. Highways and flights at Beijing Capital Airport have been affected as a result of the smog, which has been recurring in Northern China since October.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has refused to change their air-quality monitoring standards to account for particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), which is believed to have the greatest negative effect for human health.
In a letter dated December 1st, Beijing’s Environmental Protection Bureau flatly rejected a citizen’s request for PM2.5 be included in air quality measurement indices:
“Our bureau assesses the air quality and discloses data in accordance with law. Because PM 2.5 is yet to be listed into the National Standards for Environment and Air Quality, (it) cannot be used to make assessment of air quality. As per Article 21, Section 2 of Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Open Government Information, our bureau chooses not to release the information you requested.”
Since China is just like Michael Jackson, perhaps the country’s rich ought to consider acquiring hyperbaric chambers to offset their daily particulate intake, just like the Gloved One did in the 80’s. Using a surgical mask as an air filter was in fact started by the King of Pop, after all.