china pollution2RES

Imagine living in a country where you couldn’t even trust the air that you breathe for fear of contracting a serious health problem as a result.

Well in China, that exact scenario is playing out with Chinese scientists warning that the country’s air pollution is now so toxic that it resembles a nuclear winter.

The country has been well known for its smog but now experts are warning that the pollution is slowing photosynthesis in plants and preventing them from growing – which could potentially stunt the growth of crops.

Northern provinces in China and in the capital Beijing, have been covered in a thick pea-soup smog that took over a week to clear.

Beijing’s concentration of PM 2.5 particles – those small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream – hit 505 micrograms per cubic metre last week. The World Health Organisation recommends a safe level of 25.

The pollution has also taken its toll on transport in the country and led to many delayed flights and reduced tourism.

He Dongxian, an associate professor at China Agricultural University’s College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, said that if the current levels of pollution continue, it would be akin to living in a toxic, nuclear waste land.

In an experiment to test the toxicity of the pollution, Donxian found that the air pollution reduced the amount of light inside by half and severely impeded photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light into life-sustaining chemical energy.

She tested the hypothesis by growing one group of chilli and tomato seeds under artificial lab light, and another under a suburban Beijing greenhouse. In the lab, the seeds sprouted in 20 days; in the greenhouse, they took months.

Early this month, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences claimed in a report that Beijing’s pollution made the city almost “uninhabitable for human beings”.

The Chinese government have taken steps to reduce the smog, including placing restrictions on transport, as well as shutting schools and factories. However none of these measures have adequately managed to deal with the problem.

It was recently revealed that a man by the name of Li Guixin has recently filed a lawsuit against the government, seeking compensation for its failure to control the levels of air pollution.

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