Pollution in China has gone from bad to worse this week, painting a dark Christmas sky in the northeastern part of the country.
On Monday, the air quality index (AQI) measured by the amount of Particle Pollution (PM2.5 and PM10) in the air of Hebei’s capital city of Shijiazhuang has reportedly exceeded 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter.
Such smog readings are way beyond the dangerous levels prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which states that breathing in air with PM2.5 levels exceeding 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a period of 24 hours is extremely hazardous.
Residents have been complaining of breathing problems and having to bear the stench of burning coal in the area, Xinhua reported (via Shanghaiist).
A total of 23 cities in northern China have so far raised air pollution red alerts as China braces for the worst “airpocalypse” the country has experienced this year. Beijing was forced to issue the first red alert only on Friday upon the development of a thick blanket of smog in the area. The alert forced over 1,200 factories to shut down, classes to get canceled and vehicles to stay off the road as major highways were shut down. Flights in Tianjin and Beijing airports have also been postponed.
Yesterday’s pollution levels have at least seen some improvements in some areas in the country. In Beijing, the AQI reportedly fell to a “hazardous” 317 micrograms per cubic meter while Handan went down to 615 micrograms and Shijiazhuang to 627 micrograms. Local experts believe, however, that another spike in PM2.5 levels is due today.