Shanghai’s Pollution Returns After Week of Improved Skies

Shanghai’s pollution worsened after a week of improved air quality as authorities halted some construction and warned children and the elderly to avoid all outdoor activities after PM2.5 pollutants hit nine times the level recommended by the World Health Organization.

The air quality index in China’s commercial hub was 230 as of 2 p.m., indicating “heavy pollution,” the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center said on its website today. Particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter that are more dangerous than other particulate matter were 225.1 micrograms per cubic meter, the site said. WHO recommends 25 micrograms for 24-hour exposure.

The city government adopted electricity use curbs and restricted production at “key” heavy industries, according to its official microblog. A yellow haze alert went into effect as visibility in the city dropped.

The city saw record levels of smog earlier this month, forcing flight cancellations and prompting the government to issue warnings to keep children indoors and order vehicles off the road. The pollution index surged to a record 482 on Dec. 6, reaching the highest “severe” level, according to the China Daily.

In October, the Shanghai government announced a plan to cut 2012 PM2.5 readings by 20 percent by 2017. Outdoor air pollution can cause lung cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a WHO agency, said in October, ranking it as a carcinogen for the first time.

— With assistance by Gregory Turk

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