Hinterland Green

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sandstorm Hits Northern China, Residents Warned Air Quality "Very Bad for Health"

Beijing's sky took on an orange hue on Saturday as the country experienced its strongest sandstorm this year in northern China. According to media reports, a thin dusting of sand covered Beijing, causing workers and tourists to cover their faces in Tienanmen Square. China's national weather bureau warned that the air quality was "very bad for the health." It cautioned people to cover their mouths when outside and keep doors and windows locked.
China's expanding deserts now cover one-third of the country because of overgrazing, deforestation, urban sprawl and drought. The shifting sands have led to a sharp increase in sandstorms, the grit from which can travel as far as the western United States. The Chinese Academy of Sciences has estimated that the number of sandstorms has jumped sixfold in the last 50 years to two dozen a year.

The latest sandstorm also hit the Chinese regions of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia and the provinces of Gansu, Shanxi, Shaanxi and Hebei, affecting about 250 million people over an area of 312,000 square miles, the state-run New China News Agency reported. As the sandstorm moved southeast, South Korea's national weather agency issued an advisory for Seoul and other parts of the country. Source: LA Times
China experienced it worst recent sandstorm in 2006, when about 300,000 tons of sand were dumped on Beijing.
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