Air quality in China’s capital Beijing turned “hazardous” yesterday, while pollution in Shanghai was rated unhealthy as hazy weather was forecast across parts of the country’s eastern regions.
Concentrations of PM2.5, fine air particulates that pose the greatest health risk, rose to 297 micrograms per cubic meter at 12pm near Tiananmen Square from an average of 195 in the past 24 hours, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said.
The rating is the second-worst behind “severely polluted.”
The US embassy also graded the air quality in Beijing as “hazardous,” reporting its reading of PM2.5 at 344 micrograms per cubic meter at 12pm.
The airborne pollutants, which are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, can penetrate deep into lungs and even enter the bloodstream.
The WHO recommends average 24-hour exposures of no higher than 25.
Pollution in Beijing rose to a record on Jan. 12 with PM2.5 surging as high as 993, sparking criticism of the government’s management of the environment.
The capital’s daily average last month of 196 was similar to that in an airport’s smoking lounge.
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) called for patience as authorities work to reduce emissions.
Sales of fireworks in Beijing have fallen significantly during the Lunar New Year holiday as residents exercised restraint to help ward off smog, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday, citing Zhou Zhengyu (周正宇), deputy secretary-general of the municipal government.
The level of PM2.5 as measured by the US consulate in Shanghai was 79 at 12pm and air quality was “unhealthy,” according to a post on the consulate’s Twitter feed.
Haze had reappeared yesterday in parts of China’s eastern regions, reducing visibly to less than 1km, the China Meteorological Administration said in an e-mailed report.