Beijing issues smog ‘red alert’: Schools and businesses to completely shut down in China

December 8, 2015 6:22 am

 A woman wears a face mask next to traffic shrouded in heavy smog in Beijing. Photo / Getty Images

Beijing has issued its first-ever red alert for smog, urging schools
to close and invoking restrictions on factories and traffic that will
keep half of the city’s vehicles off the roads.
The red alert –
the most serious warning on a four-tier system adopted a little over two
years ago – means authorities have forecast more than three consecutive
days of severe smog.

An online notice from the Beijing Municipal Environmental
Protection Bureau said it issued the alert to “protect public health and
reduce levels of heavy air pollution.”
Beijing hotel staffer Fan Jinglong said the smog forecast was “really worrisome.”
“We have no choice but to step up preventative measures like wearing a mask outdoors at all times,” he said.
Readings
of PM2.5 particles climbed toward 300 micrograms per cubic meter on
Monday and are expected to continue rising before the air begins to
improve with the arrival of a cold front on Thursday. The World Health
Organization designates the safe level for the tiny, poisonous particles
at 25.

A vendor wearing a protective face mask waits for customer at the Jingshan Park. Photo / AP
A vendor wearing a protective face mask waits for customer at the Jingshan Park. Photo / AP
Along with limiting cars to driving every other day
depending on the last number of their license plate, a raft of other
restrictions will seek to reduce the amount of dust and other
particulate matter in the city of 22.5 million people. Officials said
extra subway trains and buses would be added to handle the additional
strain on public transport.

http://www.jokpeme.com/2015/12/beijing-issues-smog-red-alert-schools.html

Schools were advised to close, but some were choosing to stay open if they felt they had adequate air filtration systems.

Tourists visit the Olympic Park during a heavy smog. Photo / Getty
Tourists visit the Olympic Park during a heavy smog. Photo / Getty
It’s the second time this month that notoriously polluted
Beijing has experienced a prolonged bout of smog, sending PM2.5 levels
in the suburbs as high as 976 micrograms. Beijing was also shrouded in
persistent smog for most of November, when power demand soared due to
unusually cold weather.
While pollution in the capital improved
slightly in the first 10 months of the year, heavy smog that can be seen
from outer space regularly forces Beijing schools to suspend outdoor
activities and can even prompt highway closures because of reduced
visibility.

The new People's Daily Headquarters is seen in heavy smog on December 7, 2015 in Beijing. Photo / Getty
The new People’s Daily Headquarters is seen in heavy smog on December 7, 2015 in Beijing. Photo / Getty
“It is a sharp warning to us that we may have too much
development at the price of environment and it is time for us to
seriously deal with air pollution,” said Fan, the hotel employee.
Convenience
stores in Beijing were doing a brisker than usual business in air
filtering face masks Monday night as residents began stocking up for the
days ahead.
“You have to do whatever you can to protect
yourself,” said Li Huiwen, who stopped by a market on her way home from
work. “Even when wearing the mask, I feel uncomfortable and don’t have
any energy.”

Most
of the city’s international schools canceled Tuesday classes, although
it wasn’t clear how many Chinese schools planned to do so.
There
previously have been stretches of severe smog in Beijing that lasted
more than three days. However, those had initially been forecast to last
three days or less, so they did not trigger a red alert. The alert
requires a forecast of more than 72 straight hours with PM2.5 levels of
200 micrograms per cubic meter or more.

A residence community is blanked by smog on November 30, 2015 in Beijing, China. Photo / Getty
A residence community is blanked by smog on November 30, 2015 in Beijing, China. Photo / Getty
Polluted air throughout broad swaths of China has had
severe health effects. A study led by atmospheric chemist Jos Lelieveld
of Germany’s Max Planck Institute and published this year in Nature
magazine estimated that 1.4 million people each year die prematurely
because of pollution in China.
Most of the pollution is blamed on
coal-fired power plants, along with vehicle emissions and construction
and factory work. China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, plans to
upgrade coal power plants over the next five years to tackle the
problem, and says its emissions will peak by around 2030 before starting
to decline.
While emissions standards have been tightened and
heavy investments made in solar, wind and other renewable energy, China
still depends on coal for more than 60 percent of its power.

Tags:
shared on wplocker.com