Serious Pollution Problem In China

By Daniel Jamroz

China in the last couple years has had an ever growing smog cloud taking over the country. More than half of China is covered in smog. Sixteen out of twenty of the most polluted cities in the world are in China alone. To the science majors at Rutgers, the top four pollutants that China is emitting are sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and black carbon.

On top of that China has become the number one emitter of carbon dioxide since 2007. The ozone layer we have so obsessed to maintain in the last decade is being severely damaged by the creation of these pollutants. Not only does this further the global warming scare, but Chinese citizens now are required to wear gas masks when they want to go outside. Many times schools are closed for a week or two at a time due to too much smog in the air. There are even bans on outdoor barbeques and fireworks.

Exports have been up by 39% between the years of 2000 and 2007 for China, which are only rising as the days pass. In fact 33 out of 74 Chinese cities tested by the World Health Organization scored readings of over 300 micrograms per cubic meter in China’s air. Anything reading over 300 is considered hazardous to human health. A translated dialogue forum made up of Chinese citizens has information that in January 2014 the readings have reached to 700 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing, posing critical breathing conditions to humans. Bloomberg News wrote a story on the case in February 2014 concluding that Beijing’s pollution has reached 8 times the World Health Organization’s recommended levels for smog control.

During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government promised to cut its pollution down and keep the city clean for the entire duration of the event. Cleaner diesel fuel was made available across all of Beijing for the Olympics and coal-powered factories were forced to use natural gases. Many factories were shut down either temporarily or completely in order to ensure the ability to host the Olympics in 2008. This was only the case for the duration of the Olympics however, ultimately China would refrain back to mass manufacturing and recreate the smog clouds.

According to the World Health Organization, one out of eight deaths in the world are linked to air pollution. Studies show that smog kills 1.2 million Chinese citizens prematurely each year. Over 10 million people in China are diagnosed with skeletal fluorosis due to arsenic poisoning. This bone disease causes severe pain to the bones and joints, ruptures to the stomach lining, nausea and muscle wasting. In some cases the disease allows only very minimal joint movement as if the patient is paralyzed. Alongside this traumatic disease are many cases of lung cancer and emphysema from the fumes that the smog causes.

Naturally students at Rutgers, Newark were asked of their opinions on the topic. Bill, a 21-year-old finance major, explained “I mean China is an emerging nation. I can understand a lack of environmental regulation in a country which is still very much becoming an industrialized nation, similar to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. There were similar pollution issues back then as well. It is difficult for legislation to keep up with such exponential growth, especially if it could hinder them, bottom line.”

Kenneth, a 22-year-old political science major, said “They need to regulate the cause of the pollution. If it is from factories and god knows it is, seeing as everything in America is made in China, they will have to regulate population. If it is from automobiles then perhaps cars will have to be limited to one per family. In any case if you are forced to wear a mask to go outside then you probably have been overlooking the problem for a very long time.”

China is effectively burning as much coal as the rest of the world combined. Coal is a very cheap means of manufacturing and so China continuously is burning coal in their factories. Coal factories and power plants are responsible for 70% of China’s energy usage. The manufacturing of goods for export then begs a larger question. Who is more to blame for the pollution, China or consumer nations such as the United States? The United States is responsible for taking in 20% of the manufactured goods that China makes. China manufactures almost everything: cars, computers, cell phones, televisions, home appliances, toys, tools, foods, drugs, clothing and whatever one could possibly ever want. Is this a problem for China, a problem for the United States or a problem for everyone to solve?


About rutgersobserver

The official student newspaper of Rutgers-Newark.
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