Giant water canons pulverize smog in Lanzhou

By Rebecca Unsworth, May 9, 2014

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It's well known that China is forever searching for new ways to combat its ongoing smog problem. In its latest rather unusual move, Lanzhou officials have set up two giant water sprayers to dispel smog by firing a massive blast of water into the air.

The water cannons have been installed near construction works at Dongfanghong Square, where a new subway station is currently being built. The sprayers will spurt out tap water to pulverize dust and smog caused by the construction within a radius of 600 meters.

However, Martyn Chipperfield, a Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of Leeds, is sceptical of the idea. "Lanzhou has a big problem with smog, like lots of Chinese cities. This is a small-scale effort to damp down the dust. The water will go up as a fine mist, and stick to the dust and form larger particles - and fall back down to the surface under gravity. It's basically replicating rain on a local level," he said. While the sprayers will stop dust from spreading elsewhere they do nothing to counteract pollution in other areas, he added.

China's pollution levels are internationally notorious, with scientists claiming levels in the capital and six northern provinces are so high that they could replicate a nuclear winter.  According to He Dongxian from China Agricultural University’s College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, toxic smog is affecting plant photosynthesis and may damage food supply if pollution levels linger at such a steep level.

Last year, 60 percent of China's underground water was too polluted to drink, while one fith of its farmland was found to be toxic, containing chemicals including arsenic and nickel. 71 out of 74 major cities failed to meet air quality standards by the government.

[Image via CNS]

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