Beijing residents warned over smog


Officials in Beijing have warned the city's 20 million people to prepare for at least another day of smog, and officials closed some factories and ordered government cars off the road as pollution remained at hazardous levels.

Visibility was reduced to a few hundred yards in downtown Beijing and an online merchant reported "overwhelming" interest in face masks yesterday.

A US Embassy pollution monitor showed that air quality reached hazardous levels for the 19th in 25 days.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said China should promote energy-saving measures, reduce emissions and advance ecological progress in light of the pollution.

The smog has remained dense after hitting record levels on January 12th and Beijing officials have proposed new rules aimed at improving air quality.

"I haven't seen the smog stay so long like this for years," a woman said after buying two air purifiers for more than 13,000 yuan (€1500) each in downtown Beijing.

"This seems to be the only solution for us. You used to just open the windows to get fresh air at home, but now you can't do that since it's even dirtier outside,” she said.

The concentration of PM2.5, the fine air particulates that pose the greatest human health risk, was 302 micrograms per cubic metre according to the US Embassy monitoring station. The World Health Organization recommends 24- hour exposure to PM2.5 of no higher than 25.

Today's air quality was given the worst rating on the city's six-level scale, which includes a recommendation to avoid outdoor activities, according to the city monitoring center's website.

Beijing will temporarily halt production at 103 companies that produce high emissions, while government agencies and state-owned companies were ordered to cut vehicle use by 30 percent through January, the Beijing Environment Bureau said on its website yesterday.

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