A smog “red alert” is likely to remain a rarity in Beijing, now that the city has decided to raise the thresholds for issuing its highest air pollution warnings.
Just two months ago, acrid smog triggered the city’s first-ever red alerts.
In future, the highest alert will only be issued when the daily average air quality index (AQI) is forecast to exceed 500 for a day, 300 for two days in a row or 200 for four days, official news agency Xinhua reported Sunday, citing Beijing’s environmental protection bureau.
At present, a red alert is issued when the AQI is forecast to exceed 200, a level the United States deems “very unhealthy”, for at least three days.
Schools were closed and outdoor construction work was suspended when thick smog prompted Beijing to issued its first red alert in December, Reuters reported.
The new criteria take effect at the end of March and are designed to standardize pollution alerts across Beijing, the neighboring port city of Tianjin and four cities in the surrounding Hebei province, Xinhua reported.
Liu Wei, deputy head of the emergency response office at the environmental protection bureau, was quoted as saying this would in effect tighten the pollution controls for the outlying regions.
Beijing, one of China’s most polluted cities, plans to develop a network of ventilation “corridors” to help disperse smog, Xinhua said.
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