You know it’s bad when…The smog has become so thick in Beijing that the city’s natural light-starved masses have begun flocking to huge digital commercial television screens across the city to observe virtual sunrises.
Following this week’s practical shutdown of the city of “beyond index” levels of pollution, as The Mail Online reports, residents donned air masks and left their homes to watch the only place where the sun would hail over the horizon that morning…
The futuristic screens installed in the Chinese capital usually advertise tourist destinations, but as the season’s first wave of extremely dangerous smog hit, ths happened…
The air took on an acrid odor, and many of the city’s commuters wore industrial strength face masks as they hurried to work.
‘I couldn’t see the tall buildings across the street this morning,’ said a traffic coordinator at a busy Beijing intersection who gave only his surname, Zhang. ‘The smog has gotten worse in the last two to three years. I often cough, and my nose is always irritated. But what can you do? I drink more water to help my body discharge the toxins.’
The density of PM2.5 was about 350 to 500 micrograms Thursday midmorning, though the air started to clear in the afternoon. It had reached as high as 671 at 4 a.m. at a monitoring post at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
That is about 26 times as high as the 25 micrograms considered safe by the World Health Organization, and was the highest reading since January 2013.
In the far northeastern city of Harbin, some monitoring sites reported PM 2.5 rates of up to 1,000micrograms in October, when the winter heating season kicked off.
Beijing reported 58 days of serious pollution last year, or one every six to seven days on average, Xinhua quoted Zhang Dawei, director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center, as saying.
China has drawn up dozens of laws and guidelines to improve the environment but has struggled to enforce them in the face of powerful enterprises.
On Wednesday, China’s commercial capital, Shanghai, introduced emergency measures, allowing it to shut schools and order cars off the road in case of severe smog.