2013 Harbin smog

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2013 Harbin smog
Harbin dot.png
Location of Harbin
Date 21–25 October 2013
Location Harbin, China
None reported

A dense wave of smog began in the city of Harbin, China and the surrounding Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces on 20 October 2013. Unseasonably warm temperatures[citation needed] with very little wind across northeastern China coincided with the initiation of Harbin's coal-powered municipal heating system. Record densities of fine particulates were measured in the city. In Harbin, the airport and kindergarten through middle schools were closed for three days. All highways in Heilongjiang were closed.

In Harbin, the levels of PM2.5 particulate matter rose to 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre, worse than Beijing's historic highs. Visibility dropped to 50 metres (160 ft) and authorities grounded flights and closed more than 2,000 schools.[1] The smog eased on 25 October 2013 and had completely dissipated by the 28th due to a cold front that had moved in from Russia.


Smog (grey) and fog (white) cloak northeast China on 21 October 2013
Satellite: smog (grey) and fog (white) cloak northeast China on 21 October 2013.
Ddetail showing position of Harbin in the haze (NASA)
Detail showing position of Harbin in the haze (NASA)
Smog in Harbin, China in December 2012
Smog in Harbin in December 2012

Officials blamed the dense pollution on lack of wind, burning of crop waste in farmers' fields, and 20 October[2] start-up of Harbin's coal-powered district heating system.[3] Harbin lies in the north of China where winter temperatures can drop to −40 °C (−40 °F), necessitating a six-month heating season.[4]

Air pollution in Chinese cities is of increasing concern to China's leadership.[5] Particulates in the air can adversely affect human health and also have impacts on climate and precipitation. Pollution from the burning of coal has reduced life expectancies by 5.5 years in the north of China, as a result of heart and lung diseases.[6]


All highways in the surrounding Heilongjiang province were closed.[7] In Harbin, all primary and middle schools and the airport were closed for three days.[8][9]

Hospitals reported a 23 percent increase in admissions for respiratory problems.[10]

Visibility was reduced to below 50 m (160 ft) in parts of Harbin, and below 500 m (1,600 ft) in most of the neighboring Jilin province.[11] On Fa Yuen Street in Harbin, visibility of less than 5 m (16 ft) was reported.[2]

Daily particulate levels of more than 40 times the World Health Organization recommended maximum level were reported in parts of Harbin municipality.[12] The smog remained as of 23 October, when "almost all monitoring stations in Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces reported readings above 200 [µg/m³] for PM2.5".[13] PM2.5 is the amount of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter in the air, with the World Health Organization recommending a maximum 24-hour mean of 25 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³).[14] On the morning of 23 October, PM2.5 measurements in Harbin had fallen to an average of 123 µg/m³.[9]


  1. ^ Suck it and see: Dutch artist's vacuum cleaner could clear China smog The Guardian 24.10.2013
  2. ^ a b "哈尔滨重度雾霾第二日:全市停课 交通瘫痪_新闻_腾讯网 [Second Day of severe Haze in Harbin]". News.qq.com. 21 October 2013. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Northern China smog closes schools and airport in Harbin". BBC. 21 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "Harbin, China: Kingdom of Ice". The Daily Telegraph. 13 November 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  5. ^ China smog emergency shuts city of 11 million people Reuters 21 October 2013
  6. ^ "Harbin Smog Crisis Highlights China's Coal Problem". National Geographic. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Branigan, Tania. "Chinese city paralysed by smog". The Guardian. 
  8. ^ Huiying, Zhou; Yin, Cao (22 October 2013). "Smog wraps northeast, schools forced to close". China Daily. 
  9. ^ a b "Flights resume and schools reopen as smog eases in Harbin". South China Morning Post. AFP. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  10. ^ "雾霾天致呼吸道疾病患者骤增 专家:多吃梨__新华网黑龙江频道 [Respiratory Diseases Caused by Fog and Hazy Days Surge]". Xinhua News Agency. 21 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "Smog closes schools, highways in NE China". Xinhua News Agency. 21 October 2013. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  12. ^ "China: record smog levels shut down city of Harbin | euronews, world news". Euronews. 
  13. ^ "Northeast remains shrouded in smog for third straight day – People's Daily Online". People's Daily. 2013-10-23. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "Air quality and health, Fact sheet N°313". WHO Media Centre. WHO. September 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 

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