December 17, 2016 3:21:01 pm
Twenty-three cities in China including capital Beijing have activated red alerts and enforced odd-even rules to restrict traffic as the country tries to address severe pollution after the sky turned grey across much of northern part of the country on Saturday. The measures included car restrictions on roads, suspension of construction and classes for kindergardens and primary schools as well as reduced emissions guidelines for factories.
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Beijing activated its first red alert for smog this winter as the air began to turn hazy since Friday, ending several days of blue sky. Kindergardens and primary schools have been ordered to suspend classes from Monday to Wednesday in Beijing due to the persistent heavy smog. All road construction and maintenance sites have been ordered to stop work. The PM 2.5 density exceeded 200 in the downtown areas of the capital, indicating the air is heavily polluted, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre.
Beijing’s environmental and housing authorities have strengthened inspection of vehicles, construction sites and factories, punishing those that fail to meet the requirements under the red alert. The air quality index (AQI) readings at some sites in Tianjin, a northern port city neighbouring Beijing, exceeded 300 on Saturday morning, indicating serious air pollution, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Tianjin dispatched government inspection teams to check whether response measures have been implemented by companies, construction sites and drivers. The smog is forecast to be dispersed on Wednesday night by cold air.
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