Authorities in Shanghai have warned people to stay indoors as the city suffers one of its worst bouts of air pollution.. Visibility has been reduced to a few dozen metres, flights have been delayed and construction work has been halted.
The problems have been blamed on coal burning, car exhausts, factory pollution and weather patterns.
For the seventh day this month, Shanghai officials have warned children and the elderly to stay inside in a city where 24 hours exposed to the off-the-charts pollution would have hazardous consequences to one’s health. Hundreds of flights and sporting events have been cancelled, while face masks and air purifiers sold out in stores. All week, the pollution level hovered at “heavily” and “severely” polluted, according to Shanghai’s Air Quality Index, at up to 31 times the recommended levels.
The city’s PM2.5 air pollution was 63.1 micro-grams per cubic meter as of 2 p.m., after hitting 360 micro-grams per cubic meter yesterday. Today’s reading is still more than two times higher than the daily exposure level recommended by the World Health Organization. The particles, which are smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, are more dangerous than other particulate matter, according to the World Health Organization.
“This is a shock,” said Robert Theleen, chief executive officer of ChinaVest Ltd. and chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. “There was a perception that Shanghai was doing a better job in controlling pollution than Beijing.”
Heavy pollution may undermine plans for Shanghai, the nation’s commercial hub, to attract foreign investment and multinational firms, as the city implements a free-trade zone as part of a broader goal to become a global financial and logistics center by 2020.