Cars or Coal: Which Are the Biggest Causers of Pollution?

China is often seen as an environmental disaster, with pollution causing a huge problem for the wellness and wellbeing of ordinary Chinese citizens.


This winter has been one of the worst winters on record, in terms of pollution, and all experts agree on this. What they cannot agree on, however, is whether cars or coal are the biggest contributors to Beijing’s terrible air pollution levels.


This was studied by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (the top research body in China) and they now believe that motor vehicle emissions are responsible for only a small amount of the population (around four per cent). The study points strongly towards coal burning as being the biggest contributor to the pollution. This is in direct opposition to the commonly held belief that cars (of which there are around 5.5 million in Beijing) cause most of the air pollution.


The Beijing Municipal Research Institute of Environmental Protection, headed up by president Pan Tao has strongly refuted the results of this study, saying that they are without a doubt that motor vehicle pollution is the biggest cause of Beijing’s air pollution.


The study looked at air samples taken in the capital on a seasonal basis, and appeared to find that the pollutants that were generated from coal burning and industrial production were the source of the most serious pollutants in the Beijing atmosphere. The study claimed that industrial pollution, secondary inorganic aerosol and coal burning actually account for around 70 percent of all emissions in Beijing.


The conclusions to the study seem to be contradictory, however, as motor vehicle emissions are actually counted as a secondary inorganic aerosol, so they cannot be counted as a separate entity, as they appear to be in this study. Experts have cited a wealth of evidence that strongly suggests that car fumes are responsible for a large part of Beijing’s air pollution, and should not be discounted.

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