Hazardous Levels of Smog Covers Beijing Twice in a Month

An elderly man walks in front of a group of people during heavy smog in Beijing on Dec. 20, 2016. (Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)

Beijing is once again enveloped by heavy smog, raising concerns about serious air pollution. From March 26 to 28, the city was under “orange alert.” China has a four-color alert system, from least to most severe: blue, yellow, orange, and red. An orange alert indicates that smog has decreased visibility to less than 1.24 miles and the relative humidity is less than 80 percent, or when the particulate matter density is between 500 and 700 micrograms per cubic meter.

While the U.S. Department of State air quality monitor indicates it’s hazardous when the density of particulate matter reaches between 301 and 500, advising for people to avoid outdoor activities, above 500 indicates “extremely high levels.”

The orange alert was announced for the second time this month. From March 12 to 14, the city had also issued such a warning.

The air quality on the morning of March 25 reached level 5, a highly polluted level, according to the Air Quality Index devised by Chinese authorities. This system ranks air pollution from 1 (excellent) to 6 (very highly polluted).

Chinese netizens were disappointed that the Beijing authorities were unable to effectively fix the air pollution problem that has plagued the city for years.

“I’m tired of wearing a mask,” one netizen wrote.

“It’s very dangerous, especially for old people and children,” another lamented.

Chinese newspaper Beijing News reported the latest weather forecast, which indicated that pollution will escalate quickly: level 3 mild pollution on Mar. 26; level 4 medium pollution on Mar. 27; then reaching level 5 heavy pollution later on Mar. 27 and 28.

The number of lung cancer victims has increased significantly in Beijing in recent years.

Data released by the Beijing Cancer Prevention and Research Office showed lung cancer ranked first among the most prevalent cancer types in 2015. The incidence of lung cancer continues to increase. In 2015, 8,541 people were diagnosed with lung cancer. The incidence rate increased from 50.03 per 100,000 people in 2006 to 63.77 in 2015.

Written by Sunny Chao
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