Beijing issues red alert

Mohammad Hakim, News Reporter

Beijing has issued its first ever red alert over the city’s smog, with the Chinese capital going into shutdown in an attempt to protect people from the deadly air. It is the first time ever that the highest possible state of caution has been declared in the city, which has more than 21 million residents. The warning means schools will have to close down and construction and other industry in the capital will be limited.
Smog levels are actually lower than they have been in recent weeks. However, authorities expect an extreme amount of pollution over the coming days, and have imposed the order to ensure safety during that time. The order will last approximately a week according to when the weather is expected to change and blow away the smog.
The city had already been in a state of orange alert, which meant some construction and industry was being curbed. The city had also issued a ruling that said cars with odd and even number plates would be stopped from driving on alternate days. In some parts of Beijing, people can only see around 200 meters. The air is also packed with poisonous particles that mean that people could become ill simply from being outside.
Air pollution monitors showed areas of Beijing had more than 256 micrograms per cubic meter of the poisonous particles. The World Health Organization says anything over 25 micrograms is considered unsafe.
The poisonous smog in Beijing is caused by the burning of coal for industry and heating, and huge amounts of dust from the city’s many construction sites. The problem is being made yet worse by high humidity and low wind.
Children are also at greater risk, because they spend more time playing outside and have smaller lungs, Lang said. Heavy pollution can permanently damage children’s lungs, putting them at greater risk of lung disease as adults.
In all, about 7 million people worldwide die every year due to air pollution — about 1 in 8 deaths, according to the WHO.
Air quality levels are measured on a scale that begins at 0, with levels under 50 considered healthy Pollution levels in the USA rarely exceed 100, the level considered unhealthy.
Citizens and tourists combat these hazardous conditions by wearing face masks when exposed to the polluted air. It is a small remedy to a much larger crisis of pollution in this Country. The rest of the world hopes this issue can be resolved not only for the citizens of China and its neighboring countries, but the environment itself.

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