Heavy smog blanketed Shanghai as air quality in the country’s financial hub reached “severe pollution” levels on Thursday morning.
Photos shared by Shanghai locals on social media showed an extremely murky sky - an image usually associated with the city’s long-time competitor Beijing - as visibility shrank and pollutants soared.
The city’s environmental monitoring agency identified PM2.5 - the size of particle posing the greatest health risks - as the major component of the contaminants on its website while advising residents to stay indoors. The agency labelled the pollution a “level 5”- on a scale of one to six, with six being the most severe.
Shanghai’s education authorities sent out an alert to schools in the morning, suggesting students avoid outdoor activities.
While residents battled the first severely-polluted day of the autumn, some said they were shocked Shanghai was “catching up” with Beijing in the pollution department.
“Besides our much pricier car plate, Shanghai is again beating Beijing,” a resident wrote on Weibo, referring to Shanghai’s car registration that now costs an average of 75,000 yuan (HK$95,422).
Beijing, which saw 'severe' smog in recent weeks, has been suffering from air pollution for years.
The capital city's government has launched numerous measures to deal with the problem - such as shutting small factories responsible for pollution, restricting the number of cars on the road, and banning outdoor barbecues - but none seemed to have worked so far.
According to a recently published infographic by Kantar Health, a US-based healthcare consulting firm, non-small cell lung cancer, one of the most common cancers worldwide, now ranks top in China.
Patients also have the lowest mean age - 38.9 years, as revealed by the data in the infographics. in Japan, the mean age is 66.3 and in US, 60.2.