Worst smog of the year hits Beijing

The heaviest smog of the year blanketed the Chinese capital Friday on the eve of the country's annual parliament. 

The level of fine particulates hit the "hazardous" level of 452 micrograms per cubic metre overnight, according to the air quality index (AQI) by the US Embassy, and was at 405 micrograms at the time of writing. 

The maximum safe level is 25 micrograms, according to the World Health Organization. 

After relatively good air quality in January and February, the bad air returned just ahead the National People's Congress, which is expected to begin its yearly session on Saturday.

Beijing issued its first red smog alerts in December when the AQI hit 500, under a colour-coded system implemented in 2013.

The four-tier warning system has red as the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue. But last month, China made it harder to trigger a red alert. 

The highest alert will only be issued when the daily average AQI is forecast to exceed 500 for a day, 300 for two days in a row or 200 for four days, according to the official Xinhua news agency. 

The AQI on Thursday was over 300 on the index for the entire day.

Heavy smog is common in the winter months in northern China, where coal is widely used.  

Last update: Fri, 04/03/2016 - 07:31


Heavy smog returns to Beijing


Friday, December 25, 2015 - 12:03

More from World

UN: Islamic State uses tens of thousands as human shields in Mosul

Islamic State militants are using tens of thousands of people as human shields in the extremist group's stronghold...

Report: Houthi rebels in Yemen say missile hit key Saudi airport

Houthi rebels in Yemen and forces loyal to the country's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh claimed to have struck...

Syrian rebels launch Aleppo offensive aimed at breaking regime siege

Beirut (dpa) - Syrian opposition rebels Friday started a widescale attack on regime forces in Aleppo aimed at...

Turkish army claims to have "neutralized 105 terrorists" in a week

The Turkish military says it has "neutralized 105 terrorists" in the south-east of the country in a six-day period,...

First case of Zika virus discovered in Myanmar

Authorities confirmed the first case of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Myanmar, according to a statement from the...