Smog chokes Beijing as city issues Red alert on air pollution

The first-ever red alert for smog was issued in Beijing on Monday as Chinese capital turned “hazardous” even as restrictions kept half of private cars in the city of over 22 million people off the roads and schools and construction sites closed.

The Beijing municipal Environmental Mointopring centre said the smog would last intil Thursday evening  when a strong cold wind would bring back clear skies.

Beijing’s air this morning turned from “very unhealthy” to “hazardous” as PM 2.5 – particulate matter with size equal to or less than 2.5 micron and the main gauge to identify pollutant particles in the air – touched 365 compared to yesterday’s 256 level.

Under the red alert which is the highest in the four-tier emergency response system created in 2013, all schools have been ordered to be closed, and outdoor construction halted.

The red alert, the most serious level, issued yesterday will last from 7 am today to noon on Thursday.

Officials also clamped restrictions on factories and traffic.

The reading of the PM 2.5 the Particulate matter in the air at the US Embassy Beijing Air Quality Monitor showed 365 this morning.

According to the US embassy classification, anything beyond 300 is categorised ‘Hazardous’ warranting people to take preventive measures like avoiding outdoor exposure.

Few students showed up at the Beijing No. 2 Experimental Primary School yesterday as the school sent out text messages giving them the choice of either staying home or coming to school.

He Jinglong, a physical education teacher of the affiliated school of Beijing Jiaotong University, led students in indoor exercise yesterday.

“We designed a set of exercises specially for smoggy weather to keep students fit,” He was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.

The Beijing Education Commission issued a notice last night asking all middle, primary schools and kindergartens to suspend classes during the red alert period.

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