Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Commuters cover their mouths while waiting for buses in the heavy fog and smog in Harbin, China, on Monday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Hao Bin / FEATURECHINA

A scene in Harbin, China, during heavy smog on Tuesday, and the same view on Aug. 27.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: STR / AFP

A NASA satellite image shows grayish smog over eastern China.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: AFP/Getty Images / NASA

A man bicycles in the smog in Harbin, China. Choking clouds of pollution blanketed Harbin, which is famed for its annual ice festival, cutting visibility to less than half a football field.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: AFP/Getty Images / AFP

Streets and cars are obscured by thick smog in Harbin, China.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: STR / AFP

A woman wears a mask as she walks in the smog in Harbin, China. Small-particle pollution soared to a record 40 times higher than an international safety standard in the northern Chinese city as the region entered its high-smog season.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: STR / AFP

Residents travel in the smog in Harbin, China. Winter typically brings the worst air pollution to northern China because of a combination of weather conditions and an increase in the burning of coal for homes and municipal heating systems, which usually starts on a specific date.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: STR / AFP

A policeman gestures as he works on a street in heavy smog in Harbin, China. Primary and middle schools and some highways were closed, said authorities in the city, which is in China's northernmost province bordering Russia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: STR / AFP

Residents with masks on their faces walk in thick smog in Harbin, China.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: STR / AFP

Two women cover their mouths and noses with a jacket as they cross a street covered by dense smog in Harbin, China. At least 40 flights to destinations in southern China and Beijing among others were canceled or postponed at Harbin's Taiping International Airport on Monday morning.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press / Kyodo News

A man pushes a bike onto a bridge during a day of heavy pollution in Harbin, China.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press / Associated Press

Residents dance on a square under heavy smog in Harbin, China. China's major cities have some of the world's worst smog. The government was long indifferent to the environment as it pursued economic development, but has begun launching some anti-pollution initiatives after mounting public frustration.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: STR / AFP

A woman wearing a mask walks through a street covered by dense smog in Harbin, China.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press / Kyodo News

More galleries on Framework

return to gallery

Super smog hits north China city Harbin

Passing on the magic: A photo workshop in the Philippines

By Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times Photographers of a certain age most likely remember the...   View Post»

   

Super smog hits north China city Harbin

Pictures in the News | April 15, 2014

In Tuesday's Pictures in the News, the Elks Lodge in San Pedro nearly burned to the ground early Tuesday after a fire started sometime in the middle of the night -- the second...   View Post»

   

Super smog hits north China city Harbin

75 years of photojournalism

Twice I've visited the 75th anniversary historical photo exhibit by the Press Photographers Assn. of Greater Los Angeles on the Queen Mary, and each time I came away impressed. ...   View Post»

Super smog hits north China city Harbin

By Louise Watt, Associated Press

Visibility shrank to less than half a football field and small-particle pollution soared to a record 40 times higher than an international safety standard in one northern Chinese city as the region entered its high-smog season.

The manager for U.S. jazz singer Patti Austin, meanwhile, said the singer had canceled a concert in Beijing because of an asthma attack likely linked to pollution.

Winter typically brings the worst air pollution to northern China because of a combination of weather conditions and an increase in the burning of coal for homes and municipal heating systems, which usually starts on a specific date. For the large northern city of Harbin, the city’s heating systems kicked in on Sunday, and on Monday visibility there was less than 50 meters (about 55 yards), according to state media.

“I couldn’t see anything outside the window of my apartment, and I thought it was snowing,” Wu Kai, 33, a housewife and mother of a baby boy, said in a telephone interview from Harbin. “Then I realized it wasn’t snow. I have not seen the sun for a long time.”

She said her husband went to work in a mask, that he could barely see a few yards ahead of him and that his usual bus had stopped running.

“It’s scary, too dangerous. How could people drive or walk on such a day?”

The density of fine particulate matter, PM2.5, used as an indicator of air quality, was well above 600 micrograms per cubic meter — including several readings of exactly 1,000 — for several monitoring stations in Harbin, according to figures posted on the website of China’s environmental protection agency. They were the first known readings of 1,000 since China began releasing figures on PM2.5 in January 2012, and it was not immediately clear if the devices used for monitoring could give readings higher than that.

A safe level under WHO guidelines is 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

Primary and middle schools and some highways were closed, said authorities in the city, which is in China’s northernmost province bordering Russia. At least 40 flights to destinations in southern China and Beijing among others were canceled or postponed at Harbin’s Taiping International Airport on Monday morning.

Austin’s management team said the 63-year-old singer had been treated in a hospital Friday morning for an asthma attack in combination with a respiratory infection. She returned to her hotel later Friday to rest, but was unable to perform at her Beijing concert scheduled for Friday evening. Her Saturday night concert in Shanghai went ahead.

Her manager, Barry Orms, said Monday that Austin, as an asthma sufferer, would have been “affected by the amount of pollution.” He said that it wasn’t their goal to place blame, and that “Patti has expressed our belief that the Chinese government can be a leader in this very important issue.”

On the morning ahead of her concert Friday, Beijing’s air was visibly polluted, with the city’s environmental monitoring center warning children, the elderly and those with respiratory illnesses to reduce outdoor activity.

China’s major cities have some of the world’s worst smog. The government was long indifferent to the environment as it pursued economic development, but has begun launching some anti-pollution initiatives after mounting public frustration.

Last month, China’s Cabinet released an action plan that aims to make a small reduction in the country’s heavy reliance on coal to below 65% of total energy usage by 2017. According to Chinese government statistics, coal consumption accounted for 68.4% of total energy use in 2011.

2 Comments

  1. October 22, 2013, 1:32 pm

    This is sick. We need to stop buying all the products from China that bring about this industrial smog. If there wasn't a market for all these things, in the US, and around the world, the smog would decrease immeasurably. I'm not surprised, though. Most animals are treated horrifically here. Not a big stretch from them to people.

    By: aloa
  2. October 24, 2013, 5:26 am

    yeah just start with Apple. I am sure we can persuade ppl to stop using the iphone. you be the lead

    By: guest

Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.

Required

Required, will not be published