China issues first-ever national red alert for smog as air pollution continues to smother parts of the nationDaily Mail
January 4, 2017
China issued its first national red alert for air pollution on Wednesday as the country continues to battle poor air quality.
The red alert affects over 20 Chinese cities and means that visibility could be down to 50 metres (160 feet) in just two hours, reports the People's Daily Online.
China's National Observatory have also warned drivers in the affected cities to drive with caution while airports and ports are bracing themselves for cancellations.
Delays and cancellations are expected at airports across northern China following the red alert.
Red is the highest level in China's four tier system for air pollution warnings. There are 21 cities in China also on an orange alert, the second highest.
Largely affected regions include Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei provinces. Beijing has since banned heavy polluting petrol vehicles and trucks loaded with construction garbage from driving on roads.
Northern China has been battling poor air quality for the past few days with air quality ratings already reaching beyond the World Health Organisation's unhealthy index.
According to Ma Xuejie from China's Meteorological Observatory, the warning system has only been in place since 2013.
Ma told reporters: 'Recently the haze has gradually increased reaching the relevant standards so the Central Meteorological Observatory issued the first red smog warning.'
When speaking about PM2.5, the harmful particles found in smog, Ma said: 'The greater the particle diameter, the poorer the visibility.'
On January 3, a time lapse video emerged showing smog smothering the Chinese capital, completely changing the skyline in just 20 minutes.
Thousands of primary schools have suspended classes across the region.
China's Ministry of Environmental Protection announced on January 2 that it had punished 500 enterprises and construction sites for continuing to operate despite demands to close.
Photos taken on January 4 show the full extent of the air pollution.
Many people have taken to social media site Weibo to complain about the pollution.
One user wrote: 'I would rather have a slowdown in economy than heavy pollution.'
While another commented: 'the smog is so horrible...maybe we should have Chinese new year holidays earlier.'
And one user said: 'I haven't seen the nearby buildings for days now.'
Air pollution in China increases during the winter months with last November proving to be a particularly troublesome time for northern regions. Red alerts were issued in Jiangxi and Shanxi provinces during that time.