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Beijing Plans For Ventilation Corridors To Deal With Smog And Pollutants

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China has been struggling with air pollution for the past years. That is why Beijing city officials plan to develop a network of ventilation corridors to help disperse smog and pollutants. The plan calls for building a 500-meter (1,640 feet) wide ventilation corridor, connecting many secondary paths about 80 meters (262 feet) wide.

Ventilation corridors are man-made tunnels that function in breaking heat circulation in cities, improving air flow, cooling air and eliminating pollutants. These will be developed by connecting parks, lakes, rivers, low-rise buildings and highways to expand air flow. The main corridor will span across the northern suburban areas to their southern counterparts.

"Ventilation corridors can improve wind flow through a city so that wind can blow away heat and pollutants, relieving urban heat island effect and air pollution," said Wang Fei, deputy head of Beijing's urban planning committee.

The plan was originally tackled in 2014 in the city's aim to stem air pollution. In the past two years, feasibility studies were conducted but there's still no available timetable for the project.

A Better Solution: Reduce Gas Emissions

An environmental scientist, however, said that the most effective way to battle air pollution is to reduce gas emissions.

"Most often, it's not that strong winds cannot enter the city. Rather, it is the lack of wind in calm weather that often leads to heavy pollution," said Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.

"More research is needed to prove if ventilation corridors are effective before the city spends huge amounts of funds on such plans," he added.

Beijing Faces "Smogpocalypse"

Beijing and other provinces have been dealing with air pollution issues. In December, China was covered with a blanket of dense smog causing officials to close highways and schools.

The "smogpocalypse" blocked views across Beijing and since winter, the capital issued two air pollution red alerts. Beijing and its neighboring cities will start to use uniform criteria when they issue pollution alerts which will take effect by March.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) readings will categorize the alerts. If the daily average AQI will reach 500, a red alert will be issued.

Air Pollution Health Risks

Smog poses serious health risks to humans. Air pollution grabs the fourth place in the leading cause of death worldwide after high blood pressure, poor diet and smoking.

Air pollution-related illnesses like cardiovascular diseases and stroke kill about 5.5 million people across the globe each year. It is now dubbed as the top environmental cause of diseases globally.

Photo: Ilya Haykinson | Flickr

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