A heavy fog shrouding Shanghai caused widespread flight cancellations after the worst pollution levels since Chinese government monitoring prompted the city to order vehicles off the road and factories to cut production.
The city’s air quality index jumped to 503 by 2pm yesterday, putting it in the “beyond index” category, the US consulate in Shanghai said on its Web site. Pollution is hazardous and people should take steps to reduce their exposure by staying indoors in a room or building with filtered air, it said. Visibility was as low as 600m in some parts of the city according to a government weather Web site.
“The pollution is worse today [yesterday] and the fog is getting heavier,” said Zhang Yanbing (張彥斌), an analyst at Zheshang Securities Co in Shanghai. “I am not prohibiting my kids from going outside because we have to learn to grow up in all kinds of environments. But they are definitely wearing face masks.”
Heavy pollution may undermine plans for Shanghai, the nation’s commercial hub, 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.
The Shanghai government said the air quality reading surged to 458 as of 2:55pm, placing it in the “severe” category, the highest in a six-tier rating system, according to its own monitoring.
Yesterday the air quality level surpassed the previous record of 317, the Shanghai Daily reported. Local authorities warned children and elderly people to stay indoors.
Shanghai took emergency steps against pollution yesterday, ordering 30 percent of government-used vehicles off the road and industrial companies to reduce or halt production, the city said on its microblog.