Air pollution in Beijing at hazardous levels

BEIJING — Air pollution readings in China’s notoriously polluted capital were at dangerously high levels for the second straight day Saturday, with hazy skies blocking visibility and authorities urging people to stay indoors.

Local officials warned that the severe pollution in Beijing — reportedly the worst since the local government began collecting data a year ago — was likely to continue until Tuesday.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said on its website that the density of PM 2.5 particulates had reached 700 micrograms per cubic meter in many parts of the city, a level considered extremely hazardous.

By 5 p.m., the center’s real-time reporting showed the air quality indexes at or approaching the maximum 500 from some monitoring stations. The index runs from zero to 500 and accounts for the level of airborne PM 2.5 particulates — tiny particles considered the most harmful to health.

Generally, the air quality is considered good when the index is at 50 or below, and hazardous with an index between 301 and 500, when people are warned to avoid outdoor physical activities. Those with respiratory problems, the elderly and children are asked to stay indoors.

The air started to turn bad on Thursday, and monitors in Beijing reported air quality indexes above 300 by Friday. The monitoring center said Saturday that the pollution was expected to linger for the next three days and urged residents, especially the most vulnerable, to stay home as much as possible.

The air quality data are the worst in Beijing since the municipal government began to track PM 2.5 early last year, said Zhou Rong of the environmental organization Green Peace.

Monitors at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing recorded an off-the-chart air-quality reading of 755 at 8 p.m. Saturday and said the PM 2.5 density had reached 886 micrograms per cubic meter. It was unclear whether the embassy’s data were the worst since it began collecting and sharing such information in 2008.

Readings are often different in different parts of Beijing. Chinese authorities and the United States also have different ways to calculate the air quality index, although their indexes are “highly similar” at the two ends of the spectrum, said Ma Jun, founder of the nongovernmental Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing.

Air pollution is a major problem in China due to the country’s rapid pace of industrialization, reliance on coal power, explosive growth in car ownership and disregard to environmental laws. It typically gets worse in the winter because of heating needs.

In Beijing, authorities have blamed foggy conditions and a lack of wind for the high concentration of air pollutants.

Several other cities, including Tianjin on the coast east of Beijing and southern China’s Wuhan city, also reported severe pollution over the last several days.

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

Street-legal ATVs approved for some roads near Sultan

Supporters foresee tourism benefits. Opponents are concerned about injury and pollution risks.

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Merger would make Providence part of health care behemoth

Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension Health are said to be talking. Swedish would also be affected.

5 teens in custody in drug-robbery shooting death

They range in age from 15 to 17. One allegedly fatally shot a 54-year-old mother, whose son was wounded.

Most Read