Chinese experts have blamed the volatile organic compounds in hairspray, perfume and air refreshers for the recurring air pollution in the country as the dreaded smog returned to haunt the Beijing city on Monday.
The air quality index in Beijing climbed to 213, which is categorized by the World Health Organization, (WHO) as “very unhealthy”.
Chinese artist Brother Nut can point to some success from his Beijing exhibit that used 10,000 bottles of yellowish water to raise awareness of contaminated rural ground water, although it did not go down so well with Beijing authorities.
Beijing, the city of over 21-million people, every year experiences the problem of air pollution, which in recent years has dropped to moderate levels following series of measures initiated by the government since 2015 restricting the use of coal and shifting polluting industries out of the range.
China has been fighting a tough war against smog for years. It has cut life expectancy in some Chinese regions and the government has asked its citizens to buy masks and air purifiers to protect themselves during peak pollution days.
Beijing has a four-tier alert system for pollution, with red the highest, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
The orange alert means the air quality index is forecast to exceed 200 for three consecutive days. During high alerts, heavy polluting vehicles and trucks carrying construction waste are banned from roads and some manufacturing firms cut production.
The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau reported on Thursday that from January to September, the average concentration of PM 2.5 in Beijing dropped by 16.7 per cent compared to last year.
While several studies have been conducted on the reasons for heavy pollution in Beijing and Northern part of China attributing to heavy industrialization and emissions of automobiles, experts now blame the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for contributing to the poor air quality in the city.
The VOCs are a group of carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. Many common household materials and products, such as paints and cleaning products, give off VOCs.
The VOC compounds comprise 12 per cent of PM 2.5 in Beijing, and call for regulating these “less significant” sources, state-run Global Times quoted experts as saying.