Beijing Issues Rare Pollution Alert As Smog Intensifies

The city's air pollution regularly exceeds the safe levels set by the World Health Organization

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Beijing officials raised the city’s air pollution alert on Friday to orange—the second-highest level of urgency—as smog levels have been projected to stay hazardous for locals through the weekend.

While the air quality has not been as hazardous as in January, when city officials recorded extremely poisonous air pollution, the rare orange alert prompts bans on barbeques, fireworks and demolition works, the Associated Press reports. Only the most severe red alert would put emergency plans into effect to pull half the city’s cars off the road.

Both the elderly and children have been advised to stay indoors as current air quality levels are nine times the recommended levels set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Beijing is one of the least hospitable cities worldwide for its levels of air pollution, which often exceed limits set by the WHO. The government has recently taken measures to give locals real-time updates about the city’s air quality so that they can take protective health measures.