Japan blanketed by thick smog, blames China

2013-02-05 01:40:53 GMT2013-02-05 09:40:53(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

The suffocating smog that blanketed swathes of China is now hitting parts of Japan, sparking warnings Monday of health risks for the young and the sick.

The environment ministry’s website has been overloaded as worried users log on to try to find out what is coming their way.

“Access to our air-pollution monitoring system has been almost impossible since last week, and the telephone here has been constantly ringing because worried people keep asking us about the impact on health,” said a Japanese environment ministry official.

Pictures of Beijing and other Chinese cities shrouded in thick, choking smog played out across television screens in Japan last week.

News programmes have broadcast maps showing a swirl of pollution gathering strength across China and then spreading out over the ocean toward Japan.

Pinks, reds and oranges that denote the highest concentrations form a finger of smog that inches upwards to the southern main island of Kyushu.

“China is our neighbor, and all sorts of problems happen between us all the time,” said Takaharu Abiko, 50. “It is very worrying. This is dangerous pollution, like poison, and we can’t protect ourselves. It’s scary.”

Air pollution over the west of Japan has exceeded government limits over the last few days, with tiny particulate matter a problem, said Atsushi Shimizu of the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES).

Prevailing winds from the west bring airborne particles from the Asian mainland, he said.

Of specific concern is the concentration of a particle 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, which has been as high as 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air over recent days in northern Kyushu.

The government safe limit is 35 micrograms.

Yellow sand from the deserts of Mongolia and China is a known source for these particles, as are exhausts from cars and smoke from factories.

“At this time of year they are definitely not yellow sands, so they’re toxic particles,” Shimizu said, warning that “people with respiratory diseases should be careful.”

(Agencies)

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Editor: Mei Jingya
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