Air quality in Beijing turned “hazardous” while pollution in Shanghai was rated unhealthy as hazy weather was forecast across eastern regions.
Concentrations of PM2.5, fine air particulates that pose the greatest health risk, rose to 297 micrograms per cubic metre at 12pm near Tiananmen Square from an average of 195 in the past 24 hours, Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre reported. The rating is the second-worst behind “severely polluted”.
The US Embassy also graded air quality in Beijing as “hazardous,” reporting its reading of PM2.5 at 344 micrograms per cubic metre at 12pm. The airborne pollutants, which are smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, can penetrate deep into lungs and enter the blood stream. The World Health Organisation recommends average 24-hour exposures of less than 25.
Pollution in Beijing rose to a record on January 12 with PM2.5 surging as high as 993, sparking criticism of the government’s environmental management. The capital’s daily average last month, of 196, was similar to that in an airport smoking lounge. Vice-Premier Li Keqiang called for patience as authorities work to reduce emissions.
Sales of fireworks in Beijing have fallen significantly during the current Lunar New Year holiday as residents exercised restraint to help ward off smog, Xinhua News Agency reported on February 10, citing Zhou Zhengyu, 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 reappeared yesterday in some eastern regions, reducing visibly to less than 1 kilometre, the China Meteorological Administration said.