Beijing Gets Breath of Fresh Air as Cold Front Clears Out Smog

Pollution levels in Beijing improved to levels deemed safe by the World Health Organization as a cold front dispersed smog that had enveloped the capital city yesterday.

The concentration of PM2.5, the fine air particulates that pose the greatest health risk, was nine micrograms per cubic meter at 7 a.m. along a road near Tiananmen Square, compared with an average of 221 in the preceding 24 hours, a city government website said. The WHO recommends 24-hour exposure to PM2.5 of no higher than 25.

Beijing was hit by record air pollution earlier this month, spurring city leaders to propose rules that would scrap old vehicles, ban new cement and steel factories and impose fines for street vendors barbecuing food by roadsides on smoggy days. The cold front today and tomorrow will bring lower temperatures in central and eastern China and disperse fog in northern regions, the China Meteorological Administration said in an e-mailed report today.

The skyline of Beijing’s eastern Chaoyang district, obscured by smog yesterday, was clearly visible today from more than seven kilometers (four miles) to the west.

Long-term exposure to fine particulates raises the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as lung cancer, according to the WHO.

— With assistance by Baizhen Chua

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