In China’s ever continuing quest to modernize, many cities – especially ones undergoing rapid development – have become increasingly polluted. This is especially true in Nanjing, as the city continues to work simultaneously on several large-scale projects – the largest of which would arguably be the construction of various commuter subway lines. The Nanjing Metro system currently operates two main lines but anticipates the opening of a third line within two years, another six lines within three years, and a total of 17 lines by 2030. Moreover, many shopping complexes and buildings are in construction or renovation in and around the city’s center (Xinjiekou) as of publication of this article. These projects are all efforts to further Nanjing as an economic power in China.
The accumulation of the many construction projects in Nanjing has many residents worried about the air quality. The presence of PM2.5 is an issue many local Chinese residents grapple with. The EPA defines Fine particle pollution or PM2.5 as “particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller – 1/30th the diameter of a human hair.” Wang Jian, a professor at Nanjing University notes, “The PM2.5 levels for each city in China change daily, and even by the hour. There are websites that monitor where each city ranks in terms of air quality.”
PM2.5 became a notorious topic last October, after Beijing’s weather forecast station and the US embassy in Beijing released conflicting air quality reports. Since then, the Chinese government has begun monitoring air quality levels in various provinces and cities across the nation including Beijing, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
The EPA also notes that “Fine particles can aggravate heart and lung diseases and have been linked to effects such as: cardiovascular symptoms; cardiac arrhythmias; heart attacks; respiratory symptoms; asthma attacks; and bronchitis.” PM2.5 is also correlated to cancer and metal poisoning. It is believed that PM2.5 levels are higher in areas where construction work is present.
Of course, students studying abroad in China need not worry too much about the air quality. However, it should go without saying that those with asthma or allergies should bring appropriate medication and prepare as needed.
That’s all for now. 再見!