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View Count: 83 |  Publish Date: January 16, 2013
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NASA images show extent of China’s choking pollution
Sam Wood, PHILLY.COMPosted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 2:59 PM
NASA today released satellite images documenting the off-the-charts pollution that has blanketed Beijing with thick smog.
The abysmal air quality in the Chinese capital has led the government to order factories to reduce emissions and issue warnings to residents to stay inside.
The pictures from NASAs Terra satellite, taken January 14, show the choking haze enveloping most of northeast China.
The wave of pollution peaked Saturday. Expected to last through Tuesday, it was the severest smog since the government began releasing figures on PM2.5 particles, among the worst pollutants, early last year in response to a public outcry.
Really awful. Extremely awful, Beijing office worker Cindy Lu said of Mondays haze as she walked along a downtown sidewalk. But she added: Now that we have better information, we know how bad things really are and can protect ourselves and decide whether we want to go out.
Before, you just saw the air was bad but didnt know how bad it really was, she said.
Air pollution is a major problem in China due to the countrys rapid pace of industrialization, reliance on coal power, explosive growth in vehicle ownership and disregard for environmental laws, with development often taking priority over health. The pollution typically gets worse in the winter because of an increase in coal burning.
When image was captured on Monday, the air quality index (AQI) in Beijing was 341, NASA reported. An AQI above 300 is considered hazardous to all humans, not just those with heart or lung ailments. AQI below 50 is considered good, said NASA scientists.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Contact Sam Wood at 215-854-2796, @samwoodiii or samwood@phillynews.com.
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Time: 22:12  |  News Code: 82260  |  Site: philly.com
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