In an unprecedented move, the Chinese media, not an outlet known to criticize the controlling Communist Party, called on the government to take drastic measures to combat the massive amount of air pollution that is plaguing the country.
Over the weekend, Beijing air quality was far above hazardous levels. The levels reached 755 on an index that considers 300 to be dangerous. In stark contrast, the World Health Organization considers daily level of no greater than 20 acceptable.
The worst recorded air pollution in the capital occurred over this past weekend and was so bad that citizens had to buy face masks to protect themselves. The air quality was so bad that it shocked locals and people were told to stay indoors and authorities asked citizens to limit their automobile use.
Monday was not much better, as levels reached 321 by afternoon – a level recorded by the US Embassy’s measuring device.
Automobiles account for much of the pollution as does the coal the Chinese burn for heat during the winter months, and this winter has been the coldest in many years.
Of the 74 cities routinely monitored for air pollution, over half experienced exceptionally high levels.