Rise in sulfur dioxide could be sign of mass cremations in Wuhan
Windy map shows spike in SO2 emissions from Wuhan, possibly signaling increased cremations
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Data from Windy.com on Sunday (Feb. 9) showed heightened levels of sulfur dioxide around Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), causing some to speculate that it is a sign of mass cremations of victims of the deadly disease.
On Sunday, images of Windy.com maps started to appear on social media, showing an alarmingly high level of sulfur dioxide being released, with no other city in China showing similar concentrations with the exception of Chongqing. Over the past few weeks, the death toll from the Wuhan virus has continued to mount, and as the true numbers appear to be suppressed, there have been accounts and anecdotal evidence of disproportionate use of crematoria in Wuhan.
Intelewave on Sunday shared an image on Twitter showing sulfur dioxide levels soaring to 1700ug/m^3 on a map of Wuhan on Windy.com, far above the danger level of 80ug/m^3. Intelewave listed a few possible explanations for this increase in emissions, with the first being a power plant.
However, none of China’s numerous other power plants were seen emitting such large numbers that day. The second possibility proposed was the burning of refuse and animal carcasses, but the author questioned why such burning would be taking place as opposed to the standard practice of burying garbage.
The third possibility proposed was that: “Dead bodies are being burned on the outskirts of the city, the death numbers are way higher than the CCP is letting on about, and things are really, really bad.” One netizen even calculated that it would take the burning of 14,000 bodies to reach such a high level of SO2.
According to the Department of Public Health of the U.S. state of Georgia, crematories release a wide variety of chemicals besides SO2, such as “mercury, dioxin, hydrochloric acid, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and dioxins.” Twitter user Vet Watching pointed out that the elevated SO2 levels could also be explained by the burning of tons of contaminated medical waste.
Environmental scientist Dr. Jorge Emmanuel was cited by Health Care Without Harm as saying that the burning of medical supplies releases a number of pollutants, including “fly ash; heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium, copper, mercury and lead; acid gases such as hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, sulfur dioxides, and nitrogen oxides; carbon monoxide; and organic compounds. “