The air smells of coal dust and car fumes
Air pollution in the Chinese capital Beijing has reached
levels judged as hazardous to human health.
Readings from both official and unofficial monitoring stations
suggested that Saturday’s pollution has soared past danger
levels outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The air tastes of coal dust and car fumes, two of the main
sources of pollution, says a BBC correspondent.
Economic growth has left air quality in many cities notoriously
A heavy smog has smothered Beijing for many days, says the
BBC’s Damian Grammaticas, in the capital.
By Saturday afternoon it was so thick you could see just a
few hundred metres in the city centre, our correspondent
says, with tower blocks vanishing into the greyness.
Even indoors the air looked hazy, he says.
WHO guidelines say average
concentrations of the tiniest
pollution particles – called PM2.5 –
should be no more than 25
microgrammes per cubic metre.
Air is unhealthy above 100
microgrammes. At 300, all children
and elderly people should remain
Official Beijing city readings on Saturday suggested pollution
levels over 400. Unofficial reading from a monitor at the US
embassy recorded 800.
Once inhaled, the tiny particles can cause respiratory
infections, as well as increased mortality from lung cancer
and heart disease.
Last year Chinese authorities warned the US embassy not to
publish its data. But the embassy said the measurements were
for the benefit of embassy personnel and were not citywide.