Thanks to the Xinbin lab of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for analyzing our samples in record time. The results of the analysis completely surprised us. Every sample was nearly ten times lower than the World Health Organizations recommended limit.
This great news sparked us to take a further look as to why the levels are so low. At first glance, as was previously thought, the pandas are eating bamboo covered in deposited soot from a smog covered sky. You can rub your fingers over the bamboo and they come off black. What we discovered next explained the pandas clean bill of health.
I will reveal their secret in a future post as we get closer to writing up the results.
The perforations allow more air to get to the coal and it burns much more efficiently
The other afternoon I managed to convince a local restaurant owner to drive me to several coal brick production facilities here in Ya’an. These shops, which are often in the middle of town are simply redistributors of the same coal that is mined near the province capital, Chengdu. Often a one man operation, they purchase large quantities of coal, break it down into a coarse powder and compress it into the honeycomb cakes seen in these pictures. You can see the delivery carts buzzing all around town and in the cities outskirts. The cart operators are easily recognized by a stained black outfit and a pyramid shaped stack of coal in tow. Continue reading →
One of the first things you notice when arriving in China is the amount of smog that sits in the air around its cities. Ya’an is considered small in regards to Shanghai or Beijing with a population of 1.5 million, but it’s no exception to the dense clouds of lung burning air. China’s explosive growth in the last two decades has given rise to an overwhelming demand of electricity for its 1.35 billion inhabitants. In response to this, the Chinese government is building and bringing online a new power plant each week. The majority of these power plants are coal fired, and with the burning of coal comes a slew of pollutants that are released into the air. Continue reading →