On January 22nd, the 4 a.m. particulate reading near Tiananmen Square reached 258 on the PM2.5 scale. The World Health Organization has warned that airborne particulate matter should reach no higher than 25 for a 24-hour period on the PM2.5 scale.
The 4 a.m. reading at the US Embassy found the PM2.5 level had reached a whopping 441. These readings are particularly troubling since on this day Beijing officials had ordered government vehicles off the roads as a reaction to the increasing air pollution levels, with the expectation this move would lower levels.
The city is attempting to promote clean-energy vehicles across governmental departments and in the public arena. The government has a goal to replace coal-burning heaters in over 44,000 homes and to take 180,000 vehicles off the roads in order to reduce air pollutants by 2% during the course of 2013. Beijing also plans to reduce coal consumption by 1.4 million tons and volatile organic compounds emissions by 8,000 tons. 450 manufacturing plants known for heavy pollution will also be decommissioned.
China’s air pollution is so great and is becoming such a problem that it is interfering with daily life and causing a host of health problems. There are plans for drastic actions, but these actions may be difficult given the high volume of car sales and the rapid expansion of China’s industrial economy.