The thick smog that has been suffocating cities in China is now arriving in various parts of Japan, leading to warnings of health risks for the young and those who are sick. An overwhelming number of worried Japanese contacted the environment ministry during the last days in order to find out about the health risks of air-pollution. “Access to our air-pollution monitoring system has been almost impossible since last week, and the telephone here has been constantly ringing because worried people keep asking us about the impact on health,” said an environment ministry official. Images of Beijing and other Chinese cities blanketed by choking smog were broadcasted by Japanese TV channels last week.
“China is our neighbour, and all sorts of problems happen between us all the time,” said Takaharu Abiko, 50. “It is very worrying. This is dangerous pollution, like poison, and we can’t protect ourselves. It is scary.” “We can’t deny there is an impact from pollution in China”, Yasushi Nakajima, an official with the Japanese environment ministry, said. Air pollution has exceeded the legal limits lately over the western areas of Japan. Authorities are worried about the concentration of a particle 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter, which has been as high as 50 microgrammes per cubic metre of air over recent days in northern Kyushu, according to the international press. The legal safe limit is 35 microgrammes.