China’s capital has issued its first ever ‘red alert’ as the smog has reached deadly levels. Beijing has gone into shutdown to protect the people from the fatal air.
Red alert is the highest possible state of caution, and it’s the first time the capital has ever declared this state of concern.
Schools and businesses will be closed, while construction and other industry work will be limited. Oddly, the smog levels in Beijing are lower today than in recent weeks, but the warning comes from the expectation of ‘extreme amounts of pollution’ in the coming days, according to authorities.
The lockdown starts tomorrow and will last until Thursday, when the weather is expected to blow away the dense smog. It’s so bad in some areas, sight is limited to 200m distance. And there’re simply so many poisonous particles in the air that can make a person ill just from being outside.
Air pollution monitors showed that areas of Beijing had more than 256 micrograms per cubic metre of the poisonous particles. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that anything over 25 micrograms is considered unsafe.
The deadly smog comes from a combination of burning coal, the huge amount of dust from the mass of construction sites, all mixed with high humidity and low winds.
“The city is blanketed in a thick, choking smog that has covered an area of North China the size of Spain and Beijing’s most famous landmarks have been completely obscured by the yellow haze,” wrote Zhang Kai on the group’s blog.
This came before the Red Alert, when Beijing was on Orange Alert level, meaning construction and industry was somewhat restricted, not halted.
“At this level of response, schools and kindergartens can remain open, meaning that children are risking their health in order to attend class and car emissions haven’t been restricted at all.”