Beijing Warns Reduced Outdoor Activities on Heavy Pollution

Jan 23, 2014 5:13 am ET

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Beijing warned its 20 million people to reduce outdoor activities as smog enshrouded the north and southwest of China.

The concentration of PM2.5, fine particulates that pose the greatest risk to human health, was 230 micrograms per cubic meter at 4 p.m. near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, compared with an average of 229 over the past 24 hours, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said on its website. The level, signaling heavy pollution, was nine times the World Health Organization-recommended exposure of no more than 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a day.

Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun declared an “all-out effort” to tackle air pollution by cutting coal use by 2.6 million metric tons and transforming 300 polluting companies this year, the official Xinhua News Agency Jan. 16, citing the annual session of the municipal legislature.

Air quality indexes in the cities of Shijiazhuang and Xingtai in Hebei province, Xianyang in Shaanxi and Chengdu in Sichuan all show severe pollution, according to data from the China National Environment Monitoring Center. As of 3 p.m., levels of PM2.5 were as high as 346 in Shijiazhuang and 452 in Xingtai.

China’s provinces and biggest cities have been given targets to cut concentrations of some air pollutants by 5 percent to 25 percent by 2017 compared with 2012 levels. A growing number of Chinese cities have introduced emergency measures to fight smog amid increasing social unrest over the health effects of a spoiled environment.

--Feifei Shen. Editors: Nicholas Wadhams, Andrew Davis