Published: Wed, December 21, 2016
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

Northern China's Air Pollution Levels Exceeded WHO's Standards 100 Times Over

Residents in Beijing and dozens of other cities across northern China another day of smog that was so strong, flights were canceled, factories shut down and traffic stopped.

In December a year ago the capital issued its first ever red alert since the adoption of an emergency response program for air pollution in 2013, despite frequent bouts of serious smog.

A host of emergency measures have been implemented to protect the public's health from the smog, which is smothering nearly a ninth of the entire coun try.

In Beijing, the city's Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre showed air quality readings of above 300 in some parts on Sunday afternoon, but in most places, the index was below 200.

Across the region, construction sites closed and authorities reduced the number of vehicles allowed on the roads in hopes of reducing the thick haze.

The number is nearly 34 times the World Health Organization's recommended maximum exposure level of 25 over a 24-hour period.

Officials with Beijing legal affairs committee said its attempt to reclassify smog would not change anything and the city would continue to manage smog relief.

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In an effort to address the situation, some northern cities have placed limits on the number of cars allowed on the roads and temporarily shut down factories and schools.

All expressways in the municipality were closed.

Over the past few days, hospitals in the area have reported a surge in asthma and respiratory issues.

Local authorities upgraded the air pollution warning to red, effective from 8 p.m. on December 16 until December 21 when air quality is expected to improve, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.

Much of Beijing's pollution is blamed on burning coal, which increases in winter when people use more energy to deal with the colder weather.

The issue is a source of enduring public anger in China, where fast economic growth in recent decades has come at the cost of widespread environmental degradation.

Lyu Zhongmei, deputy director of the social and legal affairs committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference questioned why smog should be listed as meteorological disaster, when acid rain is not.

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