'Close your windows' Shanghai residents told, as government issues air pollution alert
Lingering bad air forced Shanghai to issue an emergency pollution alert yesterday, putting it on par with the more usually polluted capital Beijing.
Elderly people, children and those with heart and lung conditions in both cities were advised against outdoor activities yesterday. Shanghai also advised residents to limit the time they opened their windows at home.
In response to heavily polluted air, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau raised the blue emergency pollution alert - the lowest on a four-tier warning system. That was on top of a yellow haze alert that had been in place since Friday afternoon.
Shanghai's official air quality index (AQI) hit a high of 275 early yesterday. The blue emergency alert, the city's first this year, meant the AQI was forecast to be between 201 and 300 (heavily polluted). The bureau said strong winds would help disperse the pollution and haze today and tomorrow.
The service also demanded that the municipal and city governments clean rubbish from roads more frequently, and advised against outdoor events that would attracts crowds.
Some bloggers pointed out that Shanghai has only had three clear days so far this year, with the remaining days either classified as polluted or heavily polluted.
"Like Beijing, masks have become a necessity in Shanghai now," one blogger wrote.
In Beijing, the Environmental Protection Bureau raised a yellow pollution alert - the third highest - at 5pm yesterday, warning that a lack of wind would prevent pollutants from dispersing, resulting in heavy pollution from tomorrow to Wednesday. "Unfavourable" weather conditions and regional pollution were blamed.
"To ease the accumulation of pollutants, we have taken the measure to raise the yellow alert in advance, and ask that all member departments take steps to cut emission," it said on Weibo.
Discontent about the environment has grown on the mainland, leading the government to declare a "war on pollution" and vowing to cut coal use in some areas. Beijing's city government has also shut factories and introduced new fuel standards.
Beijing recorded a slight drop in smog levels last year, the bureau has said, though the average density of some pollutants was more than triple World Health Organisation limits.