Fire Earth

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Archive for the ‘air quality’ Category

China Shrouded in Sand, Dust and PM

Posted by feww on March 10, 2013

It’ll get a lot worse, before it’s all over!

Another major sandstorm hit large portions of northern and central China including the capital Beijing .

china sand dust pm
Original caption: Citizens are seen amid dust and sand in Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan Province, March 9, 2013. A sandstorm swept through Henan on Saturday, causing temperature drop and low visibility. (Xinhua/Zhao Peng). Image may be subject to copyright. More images…

  •  It was the second sandstorm to hit China this year, following the February 28 massive sandstorm that originated in Gobi Desert, Mongolia.
  • The sand and dust which buffeted Beijing, forced the temperatures to drop by up to 9 degree Celsius, said a report.
  • “The wind and dusty weather changed the capital’s major air pollutant component from PM2.5, airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, to PM10.”
  • The average density of PM10 rose sharply starting μ Saturday, with the peak density reaching 1,000 mg per square meter around noon in western parts of downtown Beijing.
  • The wort affected areas included Liaoning, Shandong and Hebei provinces, and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as well as Tianjin Municipality in northern China, Henan province in central China, Sichuan province in SW  China, and Guangdong province on the South China Sea coast of the country.

Beijing Air Quality “Worse than SARS”

The poor air quality, according to a leading Chinese public health expert, is worse than SARS because nobody can escape it. Research suggests that air pollution can “raise the risk of cardio-respiratory death by 2 to 3 percent for every increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of pollutants.” Only 1 percent of China’s 560 million urban residents breathe air considered safe by the European Union, according to a 2007 World Bank study. A report released by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection in November 2010 showed that “about a third of 113 cities failed to meet national air standards.” (

China’s Soil Pollution: The “Silent Killer”

“About 40 percent of China’s agricultural land is irrigated with underground water, of which 90 percent is polluted, according to Liu Xin, a food and health expert and a member of an advisory body to parliament, who was quoted in the Southern Metropolitan Daily,” said a report.

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Mass die-offs resulting from human impact and the planetary response to the anthropogenic assault could occur by early 2016.

  • SYMBOLIC COUNTDOWN: 1,098 Days Left to ‘Worst Day’ in the brief Human  History
  • The countdown began on May 15, 2011 …


Global Disasters: Links, Forecasts and Background

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Hazardous Air Warnings in Beijing as Landslide Kills Dozens in SW China

Posted by feww on January 12, 2013


[January 12, 2013] Mass die-offs resulting from human impact and the planetary response to the anthropogenic assault could occur by early 2016.

  • SYMBOLIC COUNTDOWN: 1,155 Days Left to the most Fateful Day in Human History
  • Symbolic countdown to the ‘worst day’ in human history began on May 15, 2011 ...


Global Disasters/ Significant Events

Dangerous air pollution lingers in Beijing, as landslide kills 46 in SW China

Air quality indexes in Beijing were approaching 500 on Saturday, as monitoring stations in various parts of the Chinese capital warned the density of PM2.5 particulates had reached 700 micrograms per cubic meter.

An hour earlier, monitors at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing had recorded an off-the-chart air-quality reading of 728 and PM2.5 density of 845 micrograms per cubic meter, reports said.

  • The air quality is regarded as ‘safe’ when the index is at 50 or lower, but hazardous for indexes between 301 and 500, when outdoor physical activities should be avoided.
  • Beijing city government issued new rules last year under which all outdoor sports activities must cease and factories have to reduce production capacity when air-quality index exceeds 500.
  • “Several other cities, including Tianjin on the coast east of Beijing and southern China’s Wuhan city, also reported severe pollution over the last several days.” AP reported.
  • The authorities have blamed the the high concentration of air pollutants on dense fog and lack of wind.

Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Original caption: Visitors walk at the fog-enveloped Temple of Heaven in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 12, 2013. Heavy fog hit Beijing on Saturday. (Xinhua/Li Wen). More images…

Landslide in SW China’s Yunnan Province

The death toll from a landslide that buried a village in a mountainous region in southwest China’s Yunnan Province Friday climbed to 46, rescuers said.

  • “The landslide hit the Zhaojiagou area of Gaopo Village, Zhenxiong County around 8:20 a.m. Friday. Zhenxiong is some 550 km northeast of the provincial capital, Kunming.”
  • The victims included 27 adults and 19 children, according to the local authorities.


Global Disasters: Links, Forecasts and Background

Posted in air poisoning, air pollution, air quality, China Air Pollution, china coal consumption, China GHG, China landslide, Global Disaster watch, global disasters, global disasters 2013, particle pollution, Particulate Air Pollution, particulate matter, particulates | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who’s Afraid of Wildfires

Posted by feww on June 9, 2011

Smoke from wildfires burning in the US can severely impact human health and ecosystems

Wildfire smoke consists of a nasty mixture of air pollutants including  carbon monoxide (CO),  nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10). 

Smoke composition depends on the fuel type and moisture content, the fire temperature, wind conditions and other factors. Different types of wood and vegetation produce different compounds when burned because they have varying amounts cellulose, lignin, tannins and other polyphenols, fats, resins, waxes, oils, starches and to a lesser extent the carcinogen benzene.

Particulate matter is the major pollutant of concern because they can affect the lungs and heart. Particle pollution includes PM10 (diameters of 2.5 to 10 µm, or micrometers)  and PM2.5 (diameters of 2.5 µm or smaller).
NOTE:  The diameter of human hair varies from 20 to 180 µm.

About 40 million people in the US suffer from chronic lung diseases including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These patients can easily be affected by lower levels of pollutants that normally do not harm healthier people.

Wildfires: Future Trend

FIRE-EARTH would only assign a certain probability to a catastrophic volcanic explosion at, say, Yellowstone during the next 5 years (subject of a future discussion), but can forecast with near certainty large increases in the size and intensity of wildfires throughout the Americas, while the ailing forests last.

Air Quality Index (Combine Ozone and PM2.5) – AirNow

Historically, the AQI value of 100 is set at the level of the short-term standard for a pollutant and the AQI value of 50 at the level of the annual standard, if there is one, or at one-half the level of the short-term standard if there is not. The upper bound index value of 500 corresponds to the Significant Harm Level (SHL), established in section 51.16 of the CFR under the Prevention of Air Pollution Emergency Episodes program. The SHL is set at a level that represents imminent and substantial endangerment to public health. Source: EPA- Revising the Air Quality Index and Setting a Significant Harm Level for PM2.5 – February 12, 2007; URL Click to enlarge

Air Quality Index Hourly Ozone 

Smoke Detection/Forecasts

More information about wildfires and smoke hazards available at

National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter Final Rule (October 17, 2006):
Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter: OAQPS Staff Paper (Dec 05):
Particle Pollution and Your Health:
Air Quality Index Reporting Proposed Rule (December 9, 1998):
Air Quality Index Reporting Final Rule (August 4, 1999):

Environmental Protection Agency

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HK Air Pollution = Lower Visibility + Higher Mortality

Posted by feww on January 19, 2011

Poor Air Lowers Visibility in Hong Kong, Raises Death Rates : Report

Visibility in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate due to air pollution

“Visibility in Hong Kong has deteriorated so sharply over the last 50 years because of air pollution that variations in levels can even be used to predict mortality rates, health experts warned Wednesday.” Source

Report Highlights:

  • Current Average Visibility in Hong Kong: 12.6km (7.8 miles)
  • Visibility in other polluted population centers (Paris, Berlin, Auckland and Vancouver) : 20 to 25km
  • Number of smoggy days when visibility falls below 8 km: 54 days in 2007 (up from 6.6 days in 1968)
  • HK air has 7 times more particulate than even the polluted Auckland and Vancouver (80 µgm³ —micrograms per cubic meter of  air—in HK compared to 24 in Auckland and 20 in Vancouver)
  • Each 6.5km reduction in visibility corresponds to 1.13% rise in the number of non-accidental deaths
  • An additional 1,200 deaths per year have occurred between 2007 and 2010

“Loss of visibility is a direct measure of serious harm to health. Loss of visibility kills people,” said Anthony Hedley, Honorary Professor at the School of Public Health. Source

“Air pollutants increase the stickiness of elements in the blood … With increased stickiness, blood cells stick together, they form a clot. If you form a clot, you may obstruct a vessel and if the vessel is in the heart or the head, you get a heart attack or a stroke,” Hedley said.

The true non-accidental death rates for Hong Kong may be even higher than those stated in the report, FIRE-Earth contends. According to one report:

  • Studies in Greater Vancouver have found that more than 2700 deaths and 33,000 emergency room visits could be avoided with a 25% reduction in particulate matter
  • Air pollution with particulate matter (PM) claims an average of 8.6 months from the life of every person in the European Union (EU)
  • Exposure to ground-level ozone for even short periods at relatively low concentrations has been found to significantly reduce lung function in healthy people during periods of exercise.  Source
  • Particulate air pollution causes 455,000 premature deaths in the EU each year, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) says. Source

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Marek and Sesnon Fire Update

Posted by feww on October 14, 2008

The Fire Industry’s War on California Resumes: How much will it cost to ‘fight’ the fires this time?

An update on SoCal’s Marek and Senson fires:

  • At least two deaths were reported.
  • Gov. Schwarzenegger declares a state of emergency in the burn areas.
  • Marek fire has consumed 6,000 acres (northeast side of the San Fernando Valley).
  • Sesnon Fire in the Porter Ranch area scortched about 5,000 acres (west side of San Fernando Valley).
  • Santa Ana winds blew up to 75 kmph with gusts reaching 115 kmph.
  • 1,000 firefighters and nine water-dropping aircraft were deployed at Marek Fire.
  • About 40 mobile homes, a dozen homes and an unspecified number of commercial sites burned at Marek Fire.
  • A Los Angeles County fire Inspector described the fire as a “blowtorch we can’t get in front of”.
  • Communities as far as Malibu, 35 km south of the fire were alerted by fire officials.
  • Officials prevented residents from driving into a Porter Ranch gated community to keep roads clear for emergency vehicles.
  • People parked their cars, ran to their homes and grabbed what they could carry. A few residents were seen clutching paintings as they fled their homes.
  • Marek Fire was just 5 percent contained, and prompted evacuation of about 1,500.
  • Flames jumped the eight-lane Foothill Freeway, which was closed in both directions between the 118 Freeway and Interstate 5, a three-mile stretch.

SoCal Fires Update October 15

Fleeing the Fires

Residents flee fast-moving brush fires in Los Angeles as wind gusts of up to 115 kmph shoot flames 70 m into the air.” Photo: Dan Steinberg/Associated Press. Image may be subject to copyright.

“We could have had an army there and it would not have stopped it… Wind is king here, it’s dictating everything we are doing.” Said the Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief.

“This is what we feared the most … The winds that were expected — they have arrived.” Said a Los Angeles County fire Capt.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District urged people to avoid outdoor activities because the air quality may be unhealthful due to smoke pollution from the fires. Schools in the area were closed.

Of the two deaths so far reported one was a motorist who was killed in a head-on collision on a freeway ramp after vehicles turned around driving against traffic to exist the freeway to avoid the fire.

Cars travel in the wrong direction on the 118 Freeway as they are directed back to an onramp, where they exited to get out of the way of smoke and flames from the fire burning in Porter Ranch. October 13, 2008. (Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times).  Image may be subject to copyright.

The Sky Terrace Mobile Lodge in the northeast San Fernando Valley suffered significant damage to residences and structure from the Marek fire. October 13, 2008.
(Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times). Image may be subject to copyright.

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Air Quality in Beijing 2008

Posted by terres on June 23, 2008

News of air quality in Beijing aren’t good

But hey, who cares? The athletes would probably be pumped with so much exotic performance enhancers they wouldn’t feel a thing.

As for the foreign visitors, they’ve got to be wealthy enough to travel to China and stay there for a week or two, right? And if you are wealthy, the discourse goes, you would know what’s good for you!

Air pollution can be seen down the main road of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square June 18, 2008 as paramilitary policemen march across it as part of the flag lowering ceremony at sunset. Australian Olympic officials have defended their decision to ban dozens of athletes from marching at the opening ceremony in Beijing because of concerns about pollution in the Chinese capital. Although it is not unusual for Australian athletes competing in the first few days to skip the ceremony to save their energy, Athletics Australia has ordered the entire team to stay away from Beijing for as long as possible because of concerns about air quality. REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA). Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice!

What others say about the air quality, Beijing 2008:

Smoggy smoggy smoggy, oi oi oi

China has even changed the way it measures Beijing air quality so that the results appear better than they really are, report The New York Times and Beijing air-quality blogger What could be more thoughtful than that when it comes to putting your guests at ease? …

“We have had athletes come back from a recent test event and one athlete has got 10 days off training because of a respiratory problem,” Athletics Australia’s high performance manager Max Binnington told ABC radio. “We don’t want our athletes to be undertaking that sort of risk.” …

They needn’t worry about making excuses. All Australian attempts to avoid upsetting the hosts will be forgotten once the Americans turn up looking like Darth Vader.

Randy Wilber, the lead exercise physiologist for the US Olympic Committee, has urged American athletes to wear specially designed carbon filtration masks over their nose and mouth from the minute they set foot in Beijing until they begin competing …

Pollution cloud over the Olympics

With 47 days to go to the Olympics China has admitted pollution fears remain high and endurance events may have to be re-scheduled.

China insists Beijing’s air quality will meet World Health Organisation standards in August [Olympics from Aug. 8-24 and the Paralympics from Sept. 6-17.] It is limiting car traffic during the event, suspending construction work and closing and moving factories away from the city.

But it is one of the most polluted cities in the world and, with 3.5 million vehicles on the road, it’s among the most congested.

Beijing Announces Traffic Plan for Olympics

Beijing has 27 air-quality monitoring stations, but some observers have questioned whether the stations, many of which are in rural and mountainous areas in the city’s suburbs, accurately reflect the quality of air in the crowded urban center of the city where most people live — and where most Olympic events will take place. In recent days, one reporter at the news conference remarked, the hazy air has seemed polluted, though the environmental agency’s daily figures say the pollution level has been low.

Blood over Beijing

The Beijing Olympics will not be the world’s least controversial. China is under fire by human rights activists, the Olympic Torch relay has become a focal point for protests, while athletes from some nations have signed gag orders to stop them commenting on anything but sport. So much for sport and politics says Jacqui Lund. …

People and pollution ? two commodities China has in abundance. Both are badly managed, both are currently in the international eye. “This will be the People’s Olympics,” China promised when they were awarded the Olympic Games. “We will make the preparations for the Olympic Games a process of substantially improving the people’s living standards, both materially and culturally,” they claimed.

China budgeted around $37bn on the Olympics in Beijing. Their state-of-the-art Olympic facilities, the ‘Bird?s Nest’ National Stadium and the ‘Water Cube’ Aquatics Centre are structural wonders to behold.

Lurking in the shadows are China’s 40 million people living below the poverty line with no national healthcare system. No-one has been able to say how the Water Cube will feed and medicate the millions.

According to the China Rights Forum, the number of people displaced by Olympics-related development in Beijing is over 1.4 million.

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