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China’s Air Pollution Attacking Plants As Well As People

China’s Air Pollution Attacking Plants As Well As People

Earlier this year, Care2′s Judy Molland reported on a terrible tragedy made worse by China’s air pollution problem. The pollution is so dense that a factory fire burned out of control for three hours before anyone noticed. No wonder some are calling it ”Airpocalypse.”

In January’s early days, the pollution became so bad that NASA could see it from space, and authorities acknowledged that the air (you know, that stuff we need to survive?) was literally toxic to human health. Beijing residents were ordered to stay inside for almost an entire week. But what about the things that can’t be kept inside?

New research shows that the toxic air isn’t only dangerous for life in cities. Rural plants, even food crops, are being attacked by the low air quality, adding another dimension of risk to this growing issue.

“In the last 50 years there has been a 16-fold increase in ozone pollution” in the Beijing area, Hanqin Tian told Discovery News. Tian studies the effects of China’s pollution and climate change on plants at Auburn University in Alabama. He says that the influx of pollutants, including sulfur and nitrogen compounds, is expanding into the countryside where it could have a fatal effect on rural plant life.

According to the EPA, ground level or “bad” ozone is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight. As Tian has discovered in the country where both sunlight and now nitrogen are available in abundance, resulting ozone damages the pores on leaves responsible for regulating how much water transpires from the plant. This in turn impacts water uptake and regional groundwater and surface water supplies.

“You could affect the water cycle,” said Tian. “That’s probably not such a good thing in a changing climate and in northern China, where droughts have become a chronic problem,” he added.

Discovery News reports that “in studies of the long-term productivity of plants, Tian Hanqin and some of his colleagues show that ozone pollution, along with climate change, has been lowering plant productivity in China, which reduces the amount of carbon and other pollutants that the plants can absorb to combat all the emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.”

Are you beginning to see the vicious cycle here?

China’s population is already vast and continues to grow at a rapid rate. All of those people have bellies that need to be filled. The last thing China needs is increased difficulty growing food, but that’s just what could happen if they can’t get a handle on their pollution problem.

Related Reading:

Is China Waking Up And Smelling Its Pollution?

30,000 Chinese ‘Occupy’ Highway To Protest Polluting Coal Plants

57% Of Chinese Believe Environmental Protection Should Be Their Country’s Top Priority

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128 comments

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11:02AM PST on Feb 19, 2013

Thank you!

7:01AM PST on Feb 16, 2013

thanks for sharing

9:37AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

I do not know what happened to the first-posting of this comment; but here it is again.

As a www.care2.com member I frustrated with far, far, far too many www.care2.com members taking shots at China as one-whole nation of citizens that support the system that produce all this Earth Killing results!!!

This is supposed to be at least more progressive website; you guys are supposed to be educated to the fact that most of The China nation has no control of or power to change these results!!!

9:25AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

As a www.care2.com member I frustrated with far, far, far too many www.care2.com members taking shots at China as one-whole nation of citizens that support the system that produce all this Earth Killing results!!!

This is supposed to be at least more progressive website; you guys are supposed to be educated to the fact that most of The China nation has no control of or power to change these results!!!

7:48AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

Choke on it and self destruct for the $. Good bye China, the end is near. A $ for a $.

6:27AM PST on Feb 13, 2013

If you want to result of bad pollution in china is easy, just travel a few km for shan ghai, Bei jing, any big city and you will see the yellow or blue children, many many are born with heart defect and of course parents can pay for this as it cost 25.000 rmb for a heart operation and a farmer get around 600 to 1000 rmb...per year!

Chinese government and many rich Chinese do not care about those and will carry on spending incredible amount of money on Dior, Rolex and all the luxury instead of caring about others...this will not stop for a very very long time as the children are brought up to believe they are gods.

3:34AM PST on Feb 9, 2013

and a big component of this is WOOD SMOKE and other solid fuel combustion products. WHO estimates that 2 million people die every year because of this
see this http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_using_wood_burning_fires/ for more info

3:33AM PST on Feb 9, 2013

and a big component of this is WOOD SMOKE and other solid fuel combustion products. WHO estimates that 2 million people die every year because of this
see this http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_using_wood_burning_fires/ for more info

10:14PM PST on Feb 8, 2013

here we go China needs to STOP it is all about MONEY well my friends when we don't have air your money will NOT mean any thing I am SICK of this we need to get mad and than STOP them

9:57PM PST on Feb 8, 2013

Our Canadian government has repealed environmental protections for water, land, air, to make it easier for dirty oil producers to extract, refine and ship their products to China! The new FIPPA agreement with China will give China powers to sue the Canadian government for up to 31 years if any law to protect the environment interferes with their oil profits. We are being held ransom by the Canadian government in their deals with China, deals that will increase pollution here in Canada, and in China, adding to global warming. It's criminal.

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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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