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Heavy Pollution Enshrouds Northern China Including Capital

Heavy pollution enveloped northern and central China today, prompting warnings for people to stay indoors as smog levels in some areas exceeded World Health Organization-recommended levels by 30 times.

The concentration of PM2.5, fine air particulates that pose the greatest health risk, was 421 micrograms per cubic meter at 2 p.m. near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, compared with an average of 228 over the past 24 hours, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said on its website. Levels of PM2.5 hit 795 in Xi’an and 740 in Zhengzhou. The WHO recommends 24-hour exposure to PM2.5 concentrations no higher than 25 micrograms per cubic meter.