Alert is­sued as smog shrouds Bei­jing

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHENG XIN zhengxin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Bei­jing is­sued a yel­low alert for smog on Thurs­day for the first time since Oc­to­ber when the city drew up an emer­gency plan fea­tur­ing a four-color alert sys­tem.

A red alert sig­nals the high­est level of pol­lu­tion, ahead of or­ange, yel­low and blue alerts.

The city’s en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bureau fore­cast that the smog will last for three days and sug­gested the pub­lic use pub­lic trans­porta­tion in­stead of pri­vate cars to help ease pol­lu­tion caused by ex­haust emis­sions.

It also sug­gested that the el­derly, es­pe­cially those with re­s­pi­ra­tory and lung prob­lems, re­duce out­door ac­tiv­i­ties and asked stu­dents at kinder­gartens and schools to re­frain or re­duce out­door phys­i­cal ex­er­cise.

Work at con­struc­tion sites in the cap­i­tal should also be limited, as re­quired by the yel­low alert, the bureau said.

Bei­jing is heav­ily pol­luted in win­ter, with coal burned dur­ing the heat­ing sea­son wors­en­ing air qual­ity.

The city has adopted strict mea­sures to deal with the pol­lu­tion. They in­clude shut­ting down pol­lut­ing en­ter­prises, mostly in the sub­urbs, and keep­ing pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles off the roads.

Bureau spokesman Fang Li told China Daily ear­lier he was con­fi­dent the city will see re­duced pol­lu­tion this year.

Data from the Bei­jing En­vi­ron­men­tal Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­ter sug­gest that the city’s air qual­ity this win­ter has im­proved slightly com­pared with last year.

In Jan­uary, air qual­ity in all 74 cities in the Bei­jing-Tian­jin-He­bei re­gion, the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta ar­eas im­proved com­pared with the same month last year, the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion said.

e lev­els of all ma­jor pol­lu­tants, ex­cept ozone, fell dur­ing the pe­riod.

PM 2.5, or fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter with a di­am­e­ter less than 2.5 mi­crons, fell by 12.2 per­cent, while ni­tro­gen diox­ide and sul­fur diox­ide fell by about 10 per­cent.

Many heav­ily pol­luted cities are in He­bei prov­ince, in­clud­ing Xing­tai, Shi­ji­azhuang, Baod­ing, Han­dan, Heng­shui and Tang­shan.

Some provin­cial cap­i­tals, in­clud­ing Ji­nan, Chengdu, Xi’an and Wuhan, also ex­pe­ri­enced heavy pol­lu­tion.

Air qual­ity was best in Lhasa in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion, Zhoushan in Zhe­jiang prov­ince, Haikou in Hainan prov­ince, and Kun­ming in Yun­nan prov­ince.

China first started mon­i­tor­ing PM2.5 in Jan­uary 2013. The par­ti­cles are con­sid­ered to be more haz­ardous as they can pen­e­trate more deeply into the lungs.

The min­istry said it will con­tinue to up­date monthly air qual­ity of cities and their rank­ings.

Un­der the emer­gency plan in­tro­duced in Bei­jing in Oc­to­ber, warn­ings will be is­sued when the air qual­ity in­dex is pre­dicted to be above 300 for three con­sec­u­tive days, in­di­cat­ing se­vere pol­lu­tion.

If a red alert is is­sued, half of the city’s pri­vate cars and 80 per­cent of pub­lic ve­hi­cles will be banned from the roads.

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