Beijing advised the young, elderly and ill among its 20 million people to stay indoors as a U.S. Embassy pollution monitor showed air quality at “hazardous” levels in the Chinese capital.
Concentrations of PM2.5, fine air particulates that pose the greatest health risk, were 257 micrograms per cubic meter at 4 p.m. near Tiananmen Square, compared with an average of 285 over the past 24 hours, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center. That reading was more than 10 times higher than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of no higher than 25 for day-long exposure.
The U.S. Embassy’s measure showed PM2.5 levels at 292 as of 4 p.m. local time.
Chinese authorities have introduced curbs on the burning of coal and vehicles in an effort to assuage public anger sparked by environmental degradation. In January this year, PM2.5 levels in the Chinese capital rose to as high as 993.
Beijing last week released plans for coping with “serious” levels of pollution in the city. The city will order 30 percent of government cars off roads, close kindergartens, middle and primary schools, and halt some industrial production when such pollution is forecast, according to the plan.
The air across the city today was either “heavily” or “severely” polluted, the two worst ratings on the government’s six-level scale. At these levels, people should at least reduce outdoor activities.
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