Following first ‘red alert’, Beijing to step-up smog monitoring

  • Reuters, Beijing
  • Updated: Dec 11, 2015 22:47 IST
A paramilitary policeman wearing a mask stands guard in front of the giant portrait of Chinese late chairman Mao Zedong, amid heavy smog after the city issued its first ever "red alert" for air pollution in Beijing on Wednesday. (Reuters)

After issuing the first smog “red alert” following alarming levels of pollution, the air quality monitoring in Beijing will be stepped up, a senior city official said.

Rapid industrial growth and car ownership have led to surging levels of air pollution in major urban areas and Chinese researchers have identified the problem as a major source of discontent.

Beijing was shrouded in acrid smog and under a pollution red alert for part of this week.

A red alert is triggered when the government believes air quality will surpass a level of 200 on an air quality index that measures various pollutants for at least three days.

The US government deems a level of more than 200 “very unhealthy”.

The city will double the number air-quality monitoring stations from 36 and will also dispatch “mobile monitoring vehicles”, the official Xinhua news agency cited Beijing vice mayor Li Shixiang as saying.

Li also said law enforcement of rules aimed at cutting pollution, such as suspending work at polluting businesses, should be improved.

A mother and son wear masks on a polluted day in Beijing on Wednesday. Pollution red alerts spread to more Chinese cities, the state media reported, as Beijing entered its third day of heavy smog. (AFP)

“There are enterprises that close while you check them and open soon after you leave,” he said.

A red alert triggers restrictions on vehicles while schools are closed, businesses recommended to allow flexible hours and the government advises that all “large-scale, outdoor activity” be stopped.

China’s frequent problems with smog underscore the challenge facing the government as it struggles with the impact of a coal-burning power industry.

Environmental protection minister Chen Jining has vowed to punish agencies and officials for any failure to quickly implement a pollution emergency response plan, state media has reported.

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