Schools have been closed and cars forced off the road as China’s capital issues its first-ever red alert for pollution.
In an unprecedented situation, labelled ‘airpocalypse’ by Greenpeace, Beijing is shrouded by a dangerous smog, with pollution levels more than 25 times more than the safe level.
The World Health Organisation declares a safe level of PM2.5 – harmful microscopic particles that penetrate deep in the lungs – to be 25 micrograms per cubic metre.
But a reading from outside Beijing’s US embassy measures the levels at 634 micrograms per cubic metre, News Limited reports.
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) December 7, 2015
The red alert, which began on Tuesday morning and will last until midday Thursday, is the highest of the country’s four-tiered warning system and is reserved for when severe smog is expected to last more than 72 hours.
Half of Beijing’s private cars and almost a third of government vehicles have been ordered off the road.
Construction has been halted, some factories have been ordered to stop operations, and fireworks and barbeques have been banned.