(NaturalNews) A new smart phone app was recently developed to enable anyone to not only view complete air quality readings but directly determine air pollution culprits. Surprisingly, it was developed in China for Chinese citizens. And it doesn't target cars and wood- or coal-burning chimneys; it targets industrial sources.
There are 15,000 factories sprawled across vast mainland China that are now required by the Environmental Ministry to submit real-time air emission reports to provincial environmental officials. Although required to make the data public, not all provinces feature the information on their websites.
This new app, launched June 9, 2014, enables anyone to see what's going on with air quality anywhere in China on an hourly reporting basis. The network, created by the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, permits one to use his or her own smart phone to not only get air quality reports in 190 different cities, but see which factories are violating pollution restrictions.
By connecting to the GPS (Global Positioning System) satellite system, which many use for directions in vehicles or on smart phones, each city can be viewed with the positions of all the factories or industries in that area.
The factories or industries are color-coded, with red indicating a transgression of the national air quality pollution limits. This system also provides a centralized data base for the Environmental Ministry.
Curbing the pollution from industrial catch-up
This development indicates more willingness to increase pressure on Chinese industries to curb their polluting ways. As recently as three years ago, there was no effort made to minimize industrial pollution. The Chinese government was more concerned about catching up to other industrialized nations commercially.
Producing energy for electricity was permitted with outdated, poorly designed coal-powered stations. Coal exhaust that is not properly "scrubbed" as it goes through stacks pollutes the air with mercury.
It got so bad that Japan formally complained to China about the higher-than-normal amounts of mercury deposited on Mt. Fuji when air currents emanated from China's mainland (http://www.naturalnews.com).
And it got so bad that Chinese entrepreneurs were recently offering bags of mountain air to promote mountain resorts and selling cans of mountain air to citizens trapped in smog ridden communities at sea level (http://www.naturalnews.com).
Of the WHO's (World Health Organization) estimated 7 million deaths attributed to outdoor and indoor air pollution, around 40 percent were in China. So, from the turning point three years ago of Chinese industries catching up to the world, there has been more attention on environmental air issues.
Smog was getting so thick that a large percentage of Chinese residents owned and used masks with high filtration ratings whenever pollution alerts were broadcast, which has been often. You've probably seen many of those photos with people wearing masks while strolling about in Chinese cities.
They were often publicized as folks trying to avoid getting the latest influenza epidemics, but they are simply as common as gloves in cold weather to minimize breathing in air pollutants.
Another example of how much the Chinese government has adapted to pressure from citizens and environmental activist groups is the fact that the level of particulate matter, PM2.5, which is an indicator of toxicity in the air, is now readily available to the public. Until recently, public access was denied to that data as part of the government's denial of smog dangers.
Of course, smog is obvious to everyone. Not as obvious are China's inland waterway pollution and soil contamination. Those seem more obvious to a few discriminating, wary Western food and supplement consumers than they are to perhaps many Chinese citizens for now.
But it appears that China is currently beginning an environmental phase that America and other Western industrial nations went through during the 1960s and '70s. Perhaps, since communism can control industry -- but under fascism, industry rules government -- any environmental progress won't be eroded there as quickly as it has been here.