For the 2009 Olympics Beijing tried enforcing strict transportation regulations. This did not have a strong effect on smog levels. The real cause of the pollution is not from the increase in cars, but rather from factories in neighboring provinces. VOC’s (volatile organic compounds)are being produced from factories operating illegally in and around Beijing (and some legal ones). They operate at night to remain secret. With the nighttime plants and the daytime ban on delivery trucks the highest pollution is recorded in the early morning. In addition to the VOC’s there are particulates from construction, coal-fired power plants and factory boilers. Thus the real challenge for Beijing is policing and reducing enormous amounts of industrial emissions.
A source of Beijing’s air pollution are small airborne particles known as PM10 which come from traffic, factories, building sites, and occasional dust storms. These small particulate matter clings to the water droplets in the humid air, making the air thicker, dark, and soupy. Although at times the fog we see is is simply caused by humidity and heat. “It does not mean to say that this fog is the same as pollution. It can be pollution, but the fog doesn’t mean necessarily that it is pollution.”
One source of Beijing’s poor air quality is from factories in the neighboring Hebei province. Many of these factories are small could be emitting an illegal amount of pollutants, some of them operate only during the night to avoid environmental inspectors. One of the problems is locating these factories and shutting them down. Another major factor that contributes to Beijing’s poor air quality is its proximity to the Shanxi province, which is directly up wind from Beijing, and is China’s largest coal mining province which also has power plants and coking plants that degrade air quality.
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