Beijing Recommends Young, Old Stay Indoors as Smog Covers City

Beijing recommended children, the elderly and those with illnesses stay indoors today because of rising pollution levels as smog covered the Chinese capital.

The concentration of PM2.5, the fine air particulates that pose the greatest health risk, was 321 micrograms per cubic meter at 8 a.m. near Tiananmen Square and had averaged 299 micrograms in the past 24 hours, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center’s website. The World Health Organization recommends 24-hour exposure to PM2.5 of no higher than 25.

Pollution levels increased after fog covered large parts of eastern and central China. Visibility in the cities of Beijing and Tianjin and portions of Henan, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces may fall to less than 200 meters, according to the National Meteorological Center, which also asked residents in those areas to take precautions for declining air quality.

Beijing’s environmental monitoring center said yesterday that the city’s air quality may not see any “noticeable improvement” in the next two to three days.

The city has already proposed 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 after PM2.5 readings reached a record 993 micrograms this month. 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 Penny Peng

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