29 Jan 2013:
Continued Beijing Air Pollution
Triggers Online Call for Clean Air Act
As Beijing residents continue to endure choking air pollution that far exceeds safe levels, an online poll has found overwhelming support for new clean air legislation
. Ten hours after real estate mogul Pan Shiyi posted the poll on the popular social media platform Sina Weibo, 99 percent of respondents — more than 32,000 people — agreed that the government should enact a Clean Air Act, with many users
offering specific measures to curb pollution, including car-free days during smoggy periods, stricter auto emissions standards, and public health protections. The dangerous cloud of pollution that has hung over Beijing for about a month now covers roughly 1.3 million square kilometers, according to the government-run Xinhua news agency. In Beijing this week, visibility fell to 500 meters, and some city natives called it the “worst fog ever,” according to a report in China Daily
. “Controlling air pollution requires the participation of every citizen,” wrote Pan
, himself a member of the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress. “Most important is implementing laws.” According to air quality indexes measuring particulate matter, air quality in the Chinese capital has remained above “very unhealthy” or “hazardous” for two weeks. On Tuesday, an index maintained by the U.S. Embassy reported that air pollution levels in Beijing had reached 517
; above 300 is considered hazardous to humans, and the World Health Organization recommends a daily exposure no higher than 20.
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