Beijing Announces ‘Red Alert’ for Smog, Closes Schools and Limits Traffic
Beijing announced on Monday that it was putting a “red alert” into effect after its municipal air quality index rose to 308.
To combat the problem, the city announced it was closing schools for three days as well as limiting the number of cars on the road. It closed factories and construction sites and banned barbecues and fireworks. These measures are to remain in effect until noon on Thursday.
Anything over 300 is considered severely polluted and would be “hazardous” using U.S. standards. The air quality index is used by government agencies to report how polluted the air in a specific city or region is. In China, the Ministry of Environmental Protection is responsible for measuring air quality and the agency says that otherwise healthy people “will experience reduced endurance in activities.”
This week’s pollution is reportedly not as severe, however, as what struck the city in late November. Chinese officials were heavily criticized then for only declaring an orange alert as opposed to red.
Meanwhile, air quality in other cities remained poor. On Tuesday, Chengdu, China’s fourth largest city, reported an air quality index of 168, “unhealthy,” while Shanghai’s was 114, “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”
“The issuing of a ‘red’ pollution alert means, first and foremost, that the Beijing authorities are taking air quality, and related health issues, very seriously,” said Dr. Bernhard Schwartländer, who represents the World Health Organization in China, in a written statement.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)