As heavy-smog season 2014-2015 begins in China, AFP reports that PM2.5 readings in Hebei province have reached 500 micrograms per cubic meter in the northern province of Hebei, and have been hovering above 300 in nearby Beijing:
Visibility dropped dramatically as measures of small pollutant particles known as PM2.5, which can embed themselves deep in the lungs, reached more than 500 micrograms per cubic metre in parts of Hebei, a province bordering Beijing.
The World Health Organization’s guideline for maximum healthy exposure is 25.
In the capital, buildings were obscured by a thick haze, with PM2.5 levels in the city staying above 300 micrograms per cubic metre since Wednesday afternoon and authorities issuing an “orange” alert.
[…] The pollution – which also hit areas hundreds of kilometres from Beijing – comes as the city hosts a high-profile cycling tournament, the Tour of Beijing, and a Brazil-Argentina football friendly. [Source]
Tom Phillips notes authorities’ flimsy explanation for the spike, and reports on the South American footballers’ limited experience below Beijing’s smoggy skies. From The Telegraph:
Authorities blamed the dramatic spike in pollution on farmer’s burning straw. They closed motorways as visibility fell and advised residents to stay indoors.
[…] Shocked at the state of Beijing’s skies, Brazilian football officials have ordered their players not to leave the five-star Intercontinental hotel apart from for brief afternoon training sessions. They are reportedly evaluating whether to continue training sessions at all.
“One of the pieces of advice that those responsible for pollution control give is that people should stay indoors and this is what we have done,” Rodrigo Lasmar, Brazil’s team doctor, was quoted as saying by the Estado de São Paulo newspaper.
“Our athletes stay inside the hotel and only go out for training. Out of every 24 hours, they spend 22 inside the hotel.” [Source]
Toxic levels of smog descend on many Chinese cities in autumn each year, a trend that foreign media has taken to describing as “airpocalypse.” While local governments in China have enacted their own emergency response plans for air pollution, central authorities declared “war on pollution” early this year in response to rising public concern.