Red Alert Issued Over Air Pollution in Beijing
Officials in Beijing have been forced to issue their first ever ‘red alert’ air pollution warning in anticipation of a smog incident over the coming days. The warning system, devised in 2013, rates air quality into four bands blue, yellow, orange and red. Alerts are issued 24 hours before the onset of an incident; the highest red level is reached when the air quality index is predicted to stay above 200 for more than 72 hours.
“It is history – this is a precedent set,” Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public an Environmental Affairs told the Guardian. “This is extremely important to stop children from being exposed to such a high level of pollution. It just shows that air pollution is still a very big challenge to the city of Beijing and that the government has paid greater attention to this issue,”
The government issues alerts using multiple channels including TV, radio, newspapers, text and the internet. Officials have put into action a number of measures designed to protect Beijing’s 23 million residents, these include closing schools, operating an alternate day driving ban, and stopping fireworks and outside barbecues. Government agencies will also keep 30% of their vehicles off the streets.
Last week, the city was subject to PM 2.5 levels almost 40 times higher than the World Health Organisation recommended limit, causing some industrial processes to be closed under an orange alert. Earlier this year a study by American scientists estimated that poor air quality kills 4,000 people in China every day.