Chinese Civilian Brings Lawsuit over Smog

China has been a major manufacturer for quite some time now and the environmental consequences have been laid bare for all to see. Lacking environmental regimes with any real teeth, the Chinese have painted themselves into a pollution filled corner.

This week has some of the worst smog on record in China, and many of its citizens have had enough. For the first time ever, a Chinese citizen has brought a lawsuit against the Chinese government for its ineffective and halfhearted strategies on controlling pollution.

Li Guixin, a resident of Shijazhuang in the Hebei province, filed the lawsuit this week in response to the crippling smog.

The complaint filed simply asks the government to “perform its duty to control air pollution according to the law”. Guixin also seeks compensation for those who have suffered under the pollution.

Having to accommodate his life around the pollution, Guixin owns multiple face masks and an air purifier. Unwilling to unnecessarily expose himself to harsh environment, he has bought a treadmill so he may exercise inside.

The Chinese government has various investments in clean air projects, but it has failed to make a dent in the smog. It has also given power to the courts to prosecute environmental offenders, but normally the courts lack follow through in this regard.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of smog engulfing the entirety of Beijing. Hebei, a large industrial hub known for steel manufacturing, is largely considered the culprit.

Many companies in Beijing have stopped production to help reduce the amount of smog.

Chief among many concerns is the detriment that pollution places on one’s health. Many agree long exposure to pollution consisting of particulate matter can lead to lung cancer.

In fact, environmental researchers have determined that the amount of pollution around Beijing measures approximately 400 PM 2.5. This means that 400 particulates 2.5 microns or greater are present per cubic meter of air. To put it in perspective, the World Health Organization recommends one’s exposure to remain within 25 PM 2.5 per 24 hours.

Exposure to extreme pollution has become such a frequent occurrence in Chinese life that the International School of Beijing has built domes over its outdoor play areas in order to reduce the possibility of children breathing the harsh air. Construction of the domes have cost up to $5 million.

The Chinese government has put out a statement claiming the cause of the pollution can be traced to weather conditions that proved conducive to smog and a large increase in the use of firecrackers. The Chinese New Year was celebrated earlier this month.

Whatever the true cause, the unusual amount of pollution demands serious attention from authorities. Beijing’s mayor has pledged what amounts to $124.6 billion to improve the air quality within the city.

Zachary Lindberg

Sources: Reuters, CNN
Photo: Policy Mic