An app made by a Chinese company shows factories in China in real time violating air pollution laws.
On Monday, a Beijing-based company, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, created an app showing factories all across China that currently transgress air pollution laws. When looking at the app, a GPS map spots more than 400 red dots, indicating businesses in business violation of at least one pollution law.
The app’s launch has brought a new wave of criticism toward some Chinese businesses neglecting to monitor their emission output.
“If the air quality is bad, you can switch [to the factory map] and see who is in your neighborhood,” in addition to being “a very effective tool for people to voice out their concerns,” said Gu Beibei, senior project manager at the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.
For a long time, the Communist Party had been more interested in economic and industrial growth, often at the expense of environmental issues. As a result, the government has kept emission numbers behind closed doors. However, as the smog started forming dense clouds throughout much of China, stern domestic and international criticism of the Communist Party badgered the government into releasing more information to the public.
Significant populations within China risk their health due to particles found in the air, called particulate matter, which include dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. According to the EPA, one of the greatest pollutants are PM 2.5, which are found excessively in China. PM 2.5 causes serious respiratory illnesses because the “fine” particles (around 1/30 the width of a human hair) can be lodged deeply into the lungs.
With dense smog becoming more threatening, many cities are hurrying to get any solution they can to quell the toxic clouds. In May, the government began confiscating outdoor grills and installing cannons that shoot water over 2,000 feet in the air to dissipate the smog.
The Chinese Environment Ministry has already required close to 15,000 factories around the country to report their emissions to officials in real time. However, many have said that these reports were compiled on websites that were not user-friendly. This app compiles all of the data for the first time in one place and can also show when and where air pollution is worst if citizens plan on going outdoors for activities.