Unseasonably warm temperatures with very little wind across northeastern China coincided with the initiation of Northeast Chinas coal-powered municipal heating system. Record densities of fine particulates were measured in the city, in Harbin, the levels of PM2.5 particulate matter rose to 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre, worse than Beijings historic highs. Visibility dropped to 50 metres and authorities grounded flights and closed more than 2,000 schools, in Changchun, air pollution recorded at an all-time high and the levels of PM2.5 particulate matter rose to 845 micrograms per cubic metre on 22 October 2013. The smog eased on 25 October 2013 and had dissipated by the 28th due to a cold front that had moved in from Russia. Officials blamed the dense pollution on lack of wind, burning of waste in farmers fields. Harbin lies in the north of China where winter temperatures can drop to −40 °C, air pollution in Chinese cities is of increasing concern to Chinas leadership. Particulates in the air can adversely affect health and also have impacts on climate. Pollution from the burning of coal has reduced life expectancies by 5.5 years in the north of China, as a result of heart and lung diseases. As air pollution in China is at a high, several northern cities are among one of the most polluted cities and has one of the worst air quality in China. Reporting on Chinas airpocalypse has been accompanied by what seems like a monochromatic slideshow of the several cities smothered in thick smog. These cities are all situated in traditional geographic subdivision of North China, all highways in the surrounding Heilongjiang province were closed. In Harbin, all primary and middle schools and the airport were closed for three days, hospitals reported a 23 percent increase in admissions for respiratory problems. Visibility was reduced to below 50 m in parts of Harbin, on Fa Yuen Street in Harbin, visibility of less than 5 m was reported. In Changchun, the capital of Jilin province, PM2.5 level rose to 845 on 22,00 p. m. Visibility of less than 50 m was reported, but Changchun education bureau refused to close the school and was criticized by parents of the students. Other cities in the surrounding Jilin province, including Jilin, Songyuan and Fuyu, daily particulate levels of more than 40 times the World Health Organization recommended maximum level were reported in parts of Harbin municipality. The smog remained as of 23 October, when almost all monitoring stations in Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces reported readings above 200 for PM2.5. PM2.5 is the amount of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter in the air, on the morning of 23 October, PM2.5 measurements in Harbin had fallen to an average of 123 µg/m³
Smog (grey) and fog (white) cloak northeast China on 21 October 2013.
Smog in Harbin, China in December 2012
Image: Northeast China smog 2013 10 21 detail 2013294.0350