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Severe smog prompts Beijing’s first ‘red alert’

Thick smog this week forced Beijing to issue its first air pollution 'red alert," the highest of four danger levels. The alert means some factories are shuttered and restrictions are in place on driving and outdoor construction. (Kyodo/Landov)

With thick haze choking the city and limiting visibility, Beijing has issued its first air pollution “red alert.” 

Bloomberg reports that the advisory is the most severe smog warning ever issued for China’s capital. Under the alert, some factories must cease or curb production, outdoors construction is prohibited and some schools are advised to close, the article says. The BBC adds here that half of the city’s autos are banned from roads each day. The restrictions are in effect from December 8 to 10.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau issued the alert with global climate talks underway in Paris and pressure mounting at home for tougher measures against pollution.  

Bloomberg notes that the municipality took action a week after particulate levels soared to even more dangerous levels. Nevertheless, the apocalyptic images coming out of Beijing depict a dire situation. The air is thick with soot and many pedestrians don face masks.

A toxic brew of factory emissions and “unfavorable” weather conditions is blamed for the latest round of foul air, the newswire says. The BBC notes that China adopted a four-tier air quality index just over two years ago. 


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