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Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 17:13

Hazardous smog hits Shanghai

By Agencies

Hazardous smog hits Shanghai
A man wearing a face mask on a heavily polluted day walks along the Bund in front of the financial district of Pudong in Shan ghai on Dec 15, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE)

SHANGHAI - Smog in Chinese metropolis Shanghai hit its highest level since January on Tuesday, prompting schools to ban outdoor activities and authorities to limit work at construction sites and factories as polluted air spreads around the country.

The smog prompted Shanghai authorities to issue a "yellow alert," the third-highest level warning, and to advise elderly, young and sick residents to remain at home, avoid outdoor activity and keep the windows closed.

In a Sina Weibo microblog message published in its official account, Shanghai Municipal Education Commission reported the levels of PM2.5 had hit 316 at 6 am.

PM 2.5 particles are a major cause of asthma and respiratory diseases, experts say.

Last week, hazardous pollution levels in Beijing triggered the capital's first "red alert," meaning vehicles were ordered off the roads, classes were cancelled and heavy vehicles banned.

Shanghai's heavy smog arrived just a day before the city hosts the closely-watched World Internet Conference, which will include a speech by President Xi Jinping. Attendees are expected to include global tech industry titans and the leaders of countries such as Russia and Pakistan.

On Tuesday, a curtain of grey smog fell over Shanghai, China's business capital with a population of over 20 million. It limited visibility and drove the city's air quality index (AQI) above 300, a level deemed "hazardous" on most scales and which can have a long-term impact on health.

The heavy smog in Shanghai also comes as provinces to the north tighten pollution regulations for steel mills and cement plants, pushing production south.

Some Shanghai residents donned masks to filter the air, while others shunned protection.

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