Opinion / From the Press

Pollution is a crisis for public health

( Updated: 2013-01-15 17:25

Public transportation and bicycles are the only way for China to deal with the air pollution in cities, says an article of Beijing News Daily. Excerpts:

Treating air pollution takes time, but protecting the public's health is an urgent and real problem. The level of airborne pollutant particles with diameters smaller than 2.5 millimeters, known as PM2.5, has broken historical records in many cities in Middle and East China, causing serious air pollution that is forecasted to last for a number of days because of the lack of wind and cold weather.

Individual citizens in some cities feel useless because they have not received any useful from help local governments except being warned to stay indoors. What the government should do when such a crisis for public health occurs is a test for all local governments.

Beijing, with its heavily polluted air and PM 2.5 reaching almost as high as 900 in some parts of the city, may act more effectively than the other cities. The municipal government updates pollution readings in real time and schools cancel all outdoor activities. The government has taken 30 percent of government vehicles off the road for the number of days the pollution is expected to last.

However, these actions are far from enough. The government and public health departments should provide necessary assistance and treatment for people such as dustmen, postmen and traffic policemen, who still need to work as normal in outdoor spaces.

Private car users should be discouraged from using their cars on these days to reduce the emission of pollutants as researchers confirm pollution from automobile emissions are one of the most important contributors for the smoggy air.

China should reflect on its strategy of promoting an automobile society. Encouraging each Chinese family to buy their own cars will certainly boost domestic demand. But China's environment and the supply of energy resources cannot afford a Chinese automobile society.

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