After 'APEC blue' skies, pollution blues choke Beijing | world | Hindustan Times
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After 'APEC blue' skies, pollution blues choke Beijing

Beijing residents were asked to stay indoors on Wednesday after dangerous levels of smog choked the city, barely days after the government lifted anti-pollution restrictions put in place to make way for clear skies during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing.

world Updated: Nov 20, 2014 01:11 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Beijing residents were asked to stay indoors on Wednesday after dangerous levels of smog choked the city, barely days after the government lifted anti-pollution restrictions put in place to make way for clear skies during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing.

The city authorities issued a smog-alert as levels of smog reached what the government environment agency termed "hazardous" and "dangerous".

This week's increasing pollution over Beijing was in sharp contrast to what Beijing residents had termed as "APEC blue" - to denote clear, blue skies - during the high-profile summit attended by US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Beijing's air quality index hit 348 at 4pm with the index of PM2.5, the smaller but more harmful particles, standing at 348," official news agency Xinhua reported, quoting data from the Beijing Environmental Protection Monitoring Centre.

But data from the US State Department website, which measures and publishes pollution data collected by the US Embassy in Beijing under the "Mission China" project put it at a far higher number: at 9pm (China time), the reading was at 430.

"The city's office for severe air pollution emergency response issued a blue alert, the lowest of a four-level warning system, at 3 pm, for Wednesday and Thursday, blaming regional pollution and unfavourable weather conditions for the build-up of pollutants," the Xinhua report said.

It added: "The office has ordered local pollution emitters to take further measures to cut emissions and advised residents to stay indoors and to wear masks when venturing out. Children, the elderly and those who suffer respiratory and cardio-cerebrovascular diseases are urged to reduce outdoor activity."

Even Xinhua said the "blue skies" experienced in the last two weeks in Beijing were "unusual".

Authorities had put in place strict restrictions prior and during the APEC summit including traffic restrictions, closing down factories in and around Beijing and banning construction activities in the city.