Beijing Advises Reduced Outdoor Activities as Smog Blankets City

Beijing advised the young, elderly and ill among its 20 million people to avoid outdoor activities as a U.S. Embassy pollution monitor showed air quality at “unhealthy” levels in the Chinese capital.

Concentrations of PM2.5, fine air particulates that pose the greatest health risk, rose to 281 micrograms per cubic meter at 4 p.m. near Tiananmen Square, compared with an average of 200 over the past 24 hours, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center. That reading was more than 11 times higher than the World Health Organization recommendation of no higher than 25 for day-long exposure.

The U.S. Embassy’s measure showed PM2.5 levels at 191 as of 4 p.m. local time.

Chinese authorities have introduced curbs on the burning of coal and vehicle traffic in a bid to assuage public anger sparked by dirty air and water. The air across most parts of the city today was “heavily polluted,” the second-worst rating on the government’s six-level scale. At that level, the city recommends children, the elderly and people with heart and lung ailments avoid activities outdoors.

— With assistance by Feifei Shen

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