Desperate times call for desperate measures. When Hanzhong, in Shaanxi Province, was confronted with off-the-chart PM 2.5 readings, officials at the City’s Environmental Protection Bureau did what any respectable scientist would do: they altered the readings by spraying the air quality monitors with water from a fire hose.
One blogger happened to catch the Bureau in the act, snapping a photo of the scene, and posting it online. The photo immediately became quite a discussion piece on online forums. User 业精于勤 said, “This is covering one’s ear while stealing a bell?” alluding to a Chinese idiom that describes trying to conceal the truth while committing a devious act.
Authorities at the Bureau denied the accusations, claiming the fire hose was not pointed at the air quality monitors, despite the photograph above clearly illustrating water being sprayed at the air quality monitors. However, authorities were willing to admit that, in the past, they may have used water trucks around the city to spray mass quantities of water in an effort to reduce heavy smog, according to an interview with Nandu.
While there appears to be no evidence to suggest that spraying air quality monitors, or the streets for that matter, has any impact on pollution readings, someone somewhere clearly believes it does. Let’s hope that going forward, the Environmental Protection Bureau takes a more constructive approach to addressing air pollution.