Heavy Smog Shrouds China

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Air quality reached extremely hazardous levels in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, as northern China began to burn coal to heat homes for winter.

Data showed the density of the poisonous tiny airborne matters known as PM2.5 was more than 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter. Nearby cities also reported very high levels of the harmful particulates.

The World Health Organization considers the safe level of PM 2.5 to be 25 micrograms per cubic meter on a 24-hour average basis.

The readings from Shenyang are possibly the highest pollution levels ever recorded in China since the country began to monitor air quality and release real-time data in 2013.

The density of PM 2.5 — considered extremely harmful to human health — peaked Sunday afternoon at more than 1,200 micrograms per cubic meter.

Local authorities issued the highest alert, warning residents to stay indoors and demanding that factories cut output to reduce pollution.

Northern China typically burns coal to heat homes in the winter, a practice believed to have fouled the air. Emissions from industrial plants and the increasing use of cars also are major causes of air pollution in China

A swathe of China was blanketed with dangerous acrid smog today after levels of the most dangerous particulates reached almost 50 times World Health Organization maximums.

Levels of PM2.5, the tiny airborne particles considered most harmful to health, reached 860 micrograms per cubic metre in Changchun, the capital of Jilin province in the northeast.

The World Health Organization’s recommended maximum is a 24-hour average of 25 micrograms.

China’s chronic pollution problem has been linked to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, and has become a major source of popular discontent with the government.

PM2.5 particulates can play a role in heart disease, stroke, and lung ailments such as emphysema and cancer.

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