While experts point to car emissions and construction projects as the cause of China’s air pollution, a government official in Dazhou in Sichuan has laid the blame on smoked bacon.
The city of Dazhou in Sichuan province has been plagued with heavy smog since the new year began, with the PM 2.5 reading frequently exceeding healthy levels.
Rao Bing, deputy head of Dazhou Environment Protection Bureau, said on January 4 that one of the causes of the city’s lingering smog is the smoking of bacon.
Eating smoked pork and sausages is a long-held tradition in Sichuan, and almost every household makes smoked bacon before the Chinese lunar new year, which falls on Feb. 19 this year.
Local city inspectors or chengguan, have launched raids against bacon-smoking sites and forcibly demolished them.
The claim invited public ridicule and skepticism after Rao’s statement found its way online on Wednesday.
On Sina Weibo, netizens mocked the official’s argument by saying that Dazhou’s air might “smell like smoked bacon.”
“Smoking bacon has a long history, but smog does not,” said one comment.
Smoking meat only contributes to a small degree of air pollution, according to volunteers at the Bayu Public Welfare Development Center, a non-government environmental protection organization, which conducted a three-day survey at a dozen bacon-smoking sites.
“The impact of the smoking process is confined within a 50-meter radius,” a volunteer told Chinese-language Chongqing Evening News.
It is not the first time that Chinese government officials have suggested controversial explanations for smog. In October, environmental watchdogs in Beijing and the adjacent Henan province, two severely polluted places, blamed the smog on farmers burning straw, an agricultural practice with a long history.
In recent years, swathes of the country have frequently reported heavy smog, slashing visibility and posing health hazards. China has taken a variety of measures to contain severe air pollution, including restricting industrial production and vehicle use.