Beijing warned its 20 million residents to avoid outdoor activities as a U.S. Embassy pollution monitor showed air quality at “hazardous” levels in the Chinese capital.
The concentration of PM2.5 -- the small particles that pose the greatest risk to human health -- hit 309 in Beijing as of 6 p.m., according to the monitor. That’s more than 12 times the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum day-long exposure limit of 25.
Air quality in Beijing was worse than government standards on 52 percent of the days last year. President Xi Jinping said last month that pollution was the biggest challenge for the capital while Premier Li Keqiang pledged to fight smog with the same zeal the government brought to tackling poverty.
The average PM2.5 levels were 106 micrograms per cubic meter in 2013 in the region including Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province, triple the national standard of 35 micrograms for cities and towns, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Air quality would be rated as “heavy polluted” today and tomorrow, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said on its website. The city issued a yellow alert that calls for measures such as more road cleaning, spraying of water at construction sites and reduced excavation work to reduce dust.