Shanghai warned children and the elderly to stay indoors as the level of the most harmful pollutants exceeded more than 10 times the level deemed safe by the WHO.
The air pollution index in the nation’s commercial hub exceeded 300 as of 10am, placing it in the “severe” range and the highest of six levels, the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center said on its Web site yesterday.
PM2.5 pollutants — particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter that pose the biggest health risk — reached 288.9 as of 8:27am, more than 10 times the WHO threshold.
Heavy pollution may undermine Shanghai’s plans to attract foreign investment and multinational firms, as the city implements a free-trade zone as part of a broader goal to become a global financial and logistics center by 2020.
Yesterday’s smog warning came a day after about 35,000 runners from 84 countries turned out for the Shanghai International Marathon, according to the People’s Daily newspaper.
Pollution levels began rising on the day of the Shanghai marathon, with the air quality index surpassing 200 at 1pm, according to the center.
In October, the Shanghai government announced a plan to cut PM2.5 readings by 20 percent by 2017.
“The sky was pretty bad,” said Bridget O’Connell, a US citizen living in Shanghai who ran in the race. “It didn’t really affect me during the race, but toward the end of the race I started to feel a little sick. After the race and today my lungs are really hurting.”
O’Connell, who also ran in the race last year, said that she noticed other runners wearing face masks for the first time.
Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, also registered air quality index readings exceeding 300 yesterday, while Beijing had readings above 150, in the “unhealthy” category, according to aqicn.org, which compiles air pollution data.