On Friday the Beijing Municipal Government issued the first orange pollution alert ever, advising of heavy, sustained smog through Monday, February 24,, and suggesting that residents reduce time outdoors.

The pollution alert was upgraded from a yellow advisory issued Friday, with heavy smog expected to linger until Monday. Officials said the pollution could last a week, with no weather front expected to push the smog out of the area. Neighboring Hebei province and Tianjin municipality will also be affected.

The pollution alert system was instituted in the autumn of 2013, and ranks air quality levels, from best to worst, as blue, yellow, orange, and red. An orange alert means that PM 2.5 readings will fall between 200 and 300 for at least three consecutive days. Residents are encouraged to reduce time spent outdoors, and to wear protective masks.

In a report by Greenpeace China released on Wednesday, Beijing ranked 13th out of 74 cities in China for pollution. Out of the top ten, seven of China's most polluted cities were in surrounding Hebei province.

Pollution has sadly become a bit of a cottage industry in Beijing. Designer masks are now available, and both international authors and local columnists have commented on the situation.

Photo: BBC News



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