China starts 2017 shrouded in smog, alerts contamination

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BEIJING (AP) — Beijing and other cities in the north and center of China woke up wrapped in a thick fog contaminated on Monday, which forced the authorities to delay dozens of flights and closed highways.

The Municipal Office of Environmental Protection of Beijing extended for three more days an “orange alert” by strong pollution. The previous forecasts pointed to the polluted air of the capital would be reduced on Monday.

The “orange alert” is the third level of alert of the four existing in the country, the last before the “red alert”. Sunday, 25 cities issued the highest warning for smog, which includes the order to close factories, schools and works.

The readings of air pollution in cities of north China are several times above the level considered safe by the World Health Organization, 25 micrograms per cubic meter of PM 2.5, a tiny particle toxic that it damages the lung tissue. On Monday afternoon, the measurements exceeded 400 in several cities of the region Hebei.

The freeways of Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, and more than half a dozen cities are temporarily closed in accordance with the notices published in the micro-blog official of the traffic police of the northern region.

More than 300 flights had to take off from Tianjin, also in the north, were cancelled on Sunday due to poor visibility. The authorities mobilized teams of inspectors to control the polluting factories, according to reports.

For years, China has one of the worst pollution atmospheric in the world, as well attributed to its reliance on coal for energy and for the factories, in addition to an excess of old cars and poorly efficient on their roads.