According to a recent report by the Chinese news organization, the levels of two of the most toxic atmospheric pollutants- nitrogen dioxide and particular matter, has increased by 30% in Beijing over the past three months.
As stated by Chen Tian, the head of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, who is cited in the report, the levels of the so-called PM 2.5 and PM10 pollutants, with a diameter between 2.5 and 10 micrometers, are up by 47% since January 2012.
The high levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the Chinese capital have been pointed out as the main reason for the increase in concentrations of the two air pollutants. Although the report indicates a slight drop in sulfur dioxide since January 2013, the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and particular matter have reached alarming levels.
The report, however, does not put the full blame on emissions, although Mr. Chen stated that around 60% of the increase is due to burning of coal and fuel. Other factors that determine the rise in concentrations include environmental characteristics such as topography, humidity, wind speed and consequently lower-temperature inversions.
Weather conditions have been considered to be the major reason for extreme levels of pollutants in Northern China. January has been characterized with concentrations of particulate matter in the air that equal those of the most severely polluted days recorded in London during the mid-20th century.
A related report by health researches indicated that air pollution caused 1.2 million premature deaths in China only for 2010, equaling 40% of the global total and making it the fourth-leading risk factor for death in the country. In addition, the cost of environmental degradation in China was estimated to be around $230 billion for 2010.
According to the Deutsche Bank report from earlier this year, growth policies in the country are likely to only contribute to the increase of air pollution in the coming decade.