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Beijing issues yellow alert after smog envelops city

October 15, 2016 16:49 IST

Beijing issued the “yellow alert” for air pollution on Saturday for the second time this month as the Chinese capital remained blanketed by heavily-polluted haze, forcing city residents indoors.

IMAGE: A woman wearing a face mask shields her face from the sun as smog shrouds the area. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

The fine particulate matter PM2.5 touched 304 micrograms per cubic metre on Saturday, which is regarded very unhealthy specially for people with heart and lung problems, according to the air quality index of the US Embassy in Beijing.

National Meteorological Centre advised city residents to take protective measures, and asked those with respiratory problems to reduce outdoor activities.

The NMC issued the “yellow alert” -- the third-most serious level in a four tier colour-code warning system. Red is the most serious and orange the second-most serious while blue is the least serious pollution level.

This was the second time this month that Beijing issued a “yellow alert” after October 2.

The meteorological authorities issue alerts when the AQI reaches 200 and severe air pollution is forecast to last at least one day.

IMAGE: Meteorologists expect North China to see more smog in autumn and winter, given unfavourable weather conditions this year. Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters

The weather is expected to improve from Sunday evening with the arrival of a mild cold front, said the Beijing Environmental Protection Monitoring Centre.

On Friday, the smog decreased visibility to within 500 metres in some parts of Beijing.

Meteorologists expect North China to see more smog in autumn and winter, given unfavourable weather conditions this year, Xinhua News Agency reported previously reported.

Despite Beijing’s attempts to limit air pollution, the capital saw only 186 days with air quality that met the national standard in 2015, which means air pollution cast shadows over Beijing for nearly half of the year, a report in the state-run Global Times said.

The city was also shrouded with heavy air pollution for 46 days, or 13 per cent of the year, said the local environmental protection bureau.

K J M Varma
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