People in Beijing have been told to stay indoors, as dangerous levels of air pollution are recorded in the city. Pollution levels were said to be more than 25 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Industrial activity and weak environmental regulation mean that Chinese cities often have poor air quality. According to the Guardian, readings for particles of PM2.5 pollution reached a high of 671 micrograms on Thursday morning. The figure is around 26 times as high as the 25 micrograms the WHO says is safe.
The municipal government has issued a yellow smog alert, the second-lowest level on China’s four-tier weather alert system, as visibility in the city is poor as a result of the smog.
China’s former health minister Chen Zhu previously estimated that the country’s air pollution – the fourth biggest killer in Beijing – accounts for up to 500,000 premature deaths each year. The comments followed news that China is set to double the number of wind turbines it uses to generate electricity over the next six year in a bid to transition to more sustainable energy sources.
A recent study linked the burning of coal with air pollution and a reduction in life expectancy in the country. In September, the government announced a new plan to reduce the number of coal-fired power plants in the Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong regions in an effort to tackle the problem.
Meanwhile, last month, Shanghai faced thick smog, with authorities telling children to stay indoors and to wear masks when outside. As a result of the high levels of pollution, China’s environmental stocks received a boost.