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Beijing smog at hazardous level

The smog has affected the city for a week.

By Ed Adamczyk
Beijing smog at hazardous level
Heavy smog, rated as 'Hazardous' by the the U.S. embassy air quality monitor, hangs over Beijing's central business district on February 22, 2013. Beijing is enduring another round of hazardous air pollution this week. File photo UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo

BEIJING, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Beijing was under a "yellow alert" Thursday, with air pollution levels 20 times the recommended limit and smog hanging over the city.

The U.S. Embassy reported its index measuring PM2.5 particulates, matter floating in the air and regarded as hazardous to human health, reached 568 micrograms per cubic meter Thursday after a week in which visibility in Beijing was low and residents routinely wore masks. A maximum of 25 micrograms per cubic meter is the maximum recommended by the World Health Organization.

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The city is suffering through its worst bout of smog since January 2013, when the government pledged to improve the quality of the air, and the "yellow alert" is third-highest ranking on the four-tier chart of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau.

The government said local construction of oil refineries, steel factories, cement plants and power plants, which with automobile exhaust are regarded as the major factors prompting the smog, beginning in March.

Beijing authorities announced, earlier in January, that average air pollution was down modestly in 2014, although it remained, on average, at three times the allowable limit.

Less severe pollution indices were expected in Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi and Sichuan provinces.

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