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China Strengthens Monitoring as Beijing’s Air Pollution Persists

Beijing’s air pollution reached eight times World Health Organization-recommended levels as smog in the city persisted for a fourth day, prompting China’s environmental protection regulator to send inspection teams to the capital and surrounding areas.

The concentration of PM2.5, fine particulates that pose the greatest risk to human health, was 198 micrograms per cubic meter near the Tiananmen Square in China’s capital at 11 a.m, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said on its website. The WHO recommends levels of no higher than 25 micrograms per cubic meter in 24 hours.

China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection said today it has dispatched 12 groups to Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province to determine if local authorities have taken adequate measures against air pollution and whether curbs on steel, coal, glass panel and cement production are in place. The regulator also sent an urgent notice requiring local governments to better predict air quality and make timely disclosure to the public.

Beijing maintained its air pollution alert at orange, triggering orders for some enterprises to limit production and a ban on outdoor barbecues and fireworks, as smog levels were projected to stay hazardous until at least Monday morning.

Pollution in Beijing and Shanghai placed them among the least hospitable of 40 international cities listed in a report by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, which ranked China’s capital second from bottom, ahead of Moscow.

Smog will persist until Monday morning in Beijing, Tianjin, and parts of Hebei, Shandong, Henan, Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces, Xinhua reported today, citing China’s meteorological agency. The agency forecast the smog will ease on Thursday when a cold front is expect bring winds.

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