The city of Shenyang, in northeast China’s Liaoning Province, has been struggling with severe haze since Nov. 8, with its average PM2.5 readings rocketing to 1,155 micrograms per cubic meter, and some places in the city have soared to 1,400 micrograms.
Visibility was reported to be less than 100 meters (328 feet) on the morning of Nov. 9th, and the entire city seemed to be shrouded in thick smog. The haze continued to get more severe as the day wore on, and drivers kept a slow pace to prevent accidents. Many pedestrians also wore masks to protect themselves.
Some environmental experts believe that the recent move to heat up homes in the city may have led to an increase in air pollutants. Straw burning in the region also hasn’t ended, which may exacerbate air pollution, experts said. Liaoning’s climate is mostly stable and not prone to strong air currents, which can prove to be a problem when it comes to getting rid of air pollutants.
Shenyang’s environmental authorities released a heavy pollution warning through their official account on Weibo and local broadcasters. However, some construction sites were still in operation. One worker said that the construction site did not receive any notice of the site being suspended. City sanitation workers were also working outside without protective masks.
Some parents and elderly residents, were not aware of how they could protect themselves against the haze, and did not receive any alarm from authorities. Many residents questioned why city authorities did not send an emergency message about the severe pollution.
Shenyang officials said that the warning wasn’t released sooner because the Shenyang official website crashed, preventing them from releasing Liaoning’s provincial warning.
It was also reported that other cities in Liaoning province were also wrapped in a thick haze. The Air Quality Index (AQI) of nine cities was beyond 300. The AQI is a quantitative description of the air quality index by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. When air pollution is beyond 300, it is considered to be a serious problem.