Officials in China have admitted that the country, with a soaring population of 1.3 billion, tops the world in nearly all forms of air pollution.
These include alarming emissions of carbon, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides—all of which pose serious health risks.
In addition, the officials specified that the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is among the world’s most polluted areas considering its gargantuan industrial output, South China Morning Post reported.
While they are quick to recognize the culprit behind such poor environmental conditions, the cost to manage its effects comes at a hefty price. According to Legal Daily (via SCMP), Wang Jinnan, chief engineer of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, said 1.75 trillion yuan ($254.1 billion) is needed to achieve pollution-reduction targets by 2017.
“China’s emissions of all types of air pollutants and carbon dioxide are the largest in the world, which creates unprecedented pressure on air quality,” Wang stressed, adding that the increasing levels of PM2.5 pollutants already affected atmospheric visibility in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area.
It can be remembered that Beijing met its first pollution red alert last year, lifted after about three days. Automobiles were limited and some factors were mandated to halt operations, BBC said.
At the time, the intensity of PM2.5 peaked at 291 micrograms per cubic meter—way above the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum safe level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.
Beijing recorded a maximum level of 286 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 according to Air Quality Index’s latest tracking. Meanwhile, Tianjin peaked 467, while Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, hit 345. Both are classified as hazardous and everyone is encouraged to “avoid all outdoor exertion.”