Drifting and floating dust that has enveloped northern China for two days
will continue to linger around the arid region Tuesday, the Central Meteorological
Observatory forecasted yesterday evening.
The mercury is expected to climb to new highs following the windy days, but a
new round of sandstorms is likely to hit northern regions again next Monday,
according to the observatory.
The ongoing sand and dust storm, generating from the
eastern parts of Mongolia, has been affecting a vast area of 280,000 square
kilometres, nearly 80 per cent of which are located in China.
Residents ride bicycles through a sand storm
on a street in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province Monday March
27, 2006. [Xinhua]
It is the fourth round of sandstorms to hit China this spring, dimming the
sky into a saffron yellow and cutting visibility considerably.
Environmental experts warned that sandstorms bring not only sand and dust but
also saline-alkali chemicals that seriously pollute water, soil and plants.
Song Huailong, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the
saline-alkali particulates mainly came from hundreds of dried-up lakes in the
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Hebei Province.
Large amounts of these harmful chemicals travel along northern China every
spring, and impose great threats to the environment and people's health, Song
said, adding that the source of saline-alkali dust was expanding and moving
towards the Chinese capital.
The sandstorm that choked Beijing yesterday caused the city's air quality to
deteriorate to the extent that the municipal environmental protection bureau was
forced to take emergency measures such as suspending construction work and
adding water sprinklers to the street.
Wang Xiaoming, an official with the bureau, said the density of the particles
was 346 micrograms per cubic metre yesterday in Beijing, three times higher than
the national standard of good air quality.
Tian Yue'e, a doctor with the Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese
Medicine, said dusty weather seriously harms people's eye, skin and respiratory
She said every spring when sandstorms prevail, the number of patients
suffering from diseases of the eye, skin and respiratory system always increase
by big margins.
She recommended people, especially the young and elderly, not go out on dusty
days and to drink more water.
(China Daily 03/28/2006 page2)