Why is the air quality in Ningbo so bad? A government official explains

Pollution in Ningbo has apparently been very bad of late, with ubiquitous fog, occasional dust storms and a gloomy dusk hanging over the city like a “layer of cotton yarn”. So the local Modern Express (现代快报) from Zhejiang province decided to try and find out why. The front page of this newspaper today asks “Why has Ningbo’s air quality been so bad of late?” To get some answers, the newspaper turned to an official at the city’s environmental monitoring department, who blamed normal local weather conditions for trapping the dust kicked up by all the construction in the city. 

From the 16th of November, the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Ningbo has been steadily declining. A monitoring device at a school in the city yesterday gave a reading of “severe pollution”, with the main pollutant being ground-level ozone pollution. When the pollution is this bad, patients suffering from liver and heart conditions show worsening symptoms, and even generally healthy people can start showing symptoms.

This state of affairs has ignited a debate online by concerned city residents. As a result, Ningbo ‘s mayor, Liu Qi (刘奇), put out a new regulation requiring all relevant local government departments to attach utmost importance to the issue, and to crack down severely on any violators (严厉打击). For a few years now Ningbo has implemented a “Clean Air” policy to close down and/or renovate polluting industries and to cap motor exhaust fumes.

So what’s the deal with all the pollution in Ningbo? When the Modern Express went to check in with the Ningbo Environmental Monitoring Center (宁波市环境监测中心), the latter told the newspaper that the typical autumn and winter weather  in Ningbo are the main reason for the change in air quality in the city as they serve to trap the harmful pollutants in the city’s atmosphere. The dry air, moreover, sucks up dust particles and causes them to accumulate in the atmosphere. The main source of all this dust is the multiple construction sites in the city for building new roads and subway stations, and for demolishing older buildings.

The official also explained that the air quality is bound to improve with the rain that fell yesterday in the city, and the more it rains, the better it will get. Yet the official also reminded residents of the city to look carefully at the weather before deciding to go outside: if its nice and sunny for a few days but then the weather changes again to be foggy and hazy, its likely that the air quality is not good and hence its not advisable to go outside.

Looking at the weather forecast for Ningbo, there’s a lot more gloom on the way.


Links and sources
Modern Express (现代快报): 宁波近期多雾霾天气 空气质量不佳为什么?

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