Monday, November 4, 2013

Tokyo Chiba Prefacture PM 2.5 air pollution warning

Can air pollution from China travel all the way to Tokyo in Japan and reduce the air quality to a hazardous level for humans? This was the question asked by many residents of Chiba prefecture east of Tokyo when the government there issued a warning to residents to avoid unnecessary outdoor activity and extended exercise because of unusually high levels of air pollution.

Many speculates that the pollution is coming from China but a Chiba government official said the pollutants travel in the air and can be caused by cars or factories, including those located in Chiba itself, but that the source of the pollution wasn’t clear:

“We aren’t sure what the origin is,” said Motoko Yonemoto, an official with Chiba’s air quality section. “Some might worry that it’s coming from China, but we don’t know for sure if pollutants from China can travel to the (Tokyo) region and have a significant impact.”
Source : Chiba Issues Air-Pollution Warning

Back in March 2013, residents of Kumamoto Prefecture on Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu were asked to voluntarily stay in their homes Tuesday, after air pollution levels surpassed government safety standards. That was the first such warning in Japan after new government guidelines were introduced.

What is PM 2.5?
PM, Particulate Matter, is a definition of particle pollution in the air. There are two kinds of particle pollution, fine particles and inhalable coarse particles. Fine particles are called PM 2.5, because their size is 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller.

Surgical masks cannot filter these particles so going out with a surgical mask is pointless when PM 2.5 levels are high. Only N95 masks (masks that can filter 95% of 0.3 micron+ particles) can be effective for PM 2.5 particles. At home, it is better to use aircon instead of natural ventilation.

Tokyo Chiba Prefacture PM 2.5 air pollution warning
Back in June 2013, PM 2.5 levels went to hazardous levels in Singapore due to forest fires in Indonesia and N95 Mask stocks were deplated in a day on the small island.

Average PM 2.5 levels were 85 mg per cubic meter in Tokyo Chiba Prefacture between 05:00 and 07:00 AM.

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