fireworksThis summer, U.S. cyclists arrived at the Beijing Olympics wearing masks issued by the United States Olympic Committee to protect them from China’s infamously bad air quality. They later apologized, realizing it was in bad taste.

Leading up to the games, Beijing authorities took serious measures to decrease air pollution, such as relocating a major steel manufacturer and reducing automobile traffic.

But recently all those efforts went out the window. During this year’s Chinese New Year celebration the insane amount of fireworks sent Beijing’s air pollution soaring!

It all started when errant fireworks struck the Television Cultural Center setting in ablaze. Firefighters and military units raced to the scene to battle the fire with some actually carrying plastic washbasins and hand-towels to shield themselves from the smoke.

Sadly, the building was totally burned up and all the smoke and the fireworks caused a three day plummet of air quality. Government figures show a sharp increase in Beijing air pollution on February 8th, when the fire started, then an equally sharp decline on the 10th, when it ended, with February 9th recording a dramatic spike in the city’s air pollution.

Ironically, in 2005 Beijing ended a ban on fireworks for New Year celebrations.

Via TreeHugger.