Saturday, and again on Monday (22nd March) Beijing and part of eastern China was hit by two successive severe sandstorms originating in northern China. And the fine dust travelled not only to Taiwan, but as far as to the western United States.
However, this is not the first time that China’s capital suffered from sandstorms. In April 2006, the city was hit by a massive sandstorm that left 300,000 tons of sand on Beijing.
It is believed that deforestation, rapid expansion of urban areas, and as a consequence, expansion of deserts (desertification) is the main reason of frequent sandstorms. It is to mention here that, China has 2.6 million square kilometers of deserts.
In Taiwan, 160 km away from the mainland China, Focus Taiwan News Channel reported particulate (suspended particles) concentration in the air of more than 1,000 micrograms/cubic meter compared to the normal level of less than 150 micrograms/cubic meter. According to China Daily, in Beijing it was 1500 mg/cubic meter on Monday.
Among other hazards, air-borne fine dusts are causing severe respiratory problems for city dwellers.
However, what all these mean is very alarming – deserts are expanding.