As Hong Kong announced plans to introduce an air quality index that assesses health risks from smog, Shanghai ordered vehicles off the road and factories to cut production after pollution reached hazardous levels.
A heavy fog shrouding Shanghai caused widespread flight cancellations and sent an air quality index monitored by the U.S. consulate in the city surging past 500 to the “beyond index” category. Also, Hong Kong’s air pollution index reached “very high” levels at three roadside monitors, according to its Environment Protection Department.
Outdoor air pollution can cause lung cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a World Health Organization agency said in October, ranking it as a carcinogen for the first time.
“The pollution is worse and the fog is getting heavier,” said Zhang Yanbing, analyst at Zheshang Securities Co. in Shanghai. “I am not prohibiting my kids from going outside because we have to learn to grow up in all kinds of environment. But they are definitely wearing face masks.”
Shanghai took emergency steps against pollution, ordering 30 % of government-used vehicles off the road and industrial companies to reduce or halt production, the city said on its microblog.
Premier Li Keqiang pledged in March to clean up pollution including cutting coal consumption, shutting steel plants and controlling the number of cars. Pollution has become the top cause of social unrest in China, Chen Jiping, a former leading member of the Communist Party’s Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs, said that same month.