SHANGHAI China's northern Hebei province has issued its first "red alert" of the year for severe pollution, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday, the highest level alert for smog which will see factories suspended and cars pulled off the road.
The province, which borders capital city Beijing, is home to a number of heavy polluting industries including China's top steel making city Tangshan, which was forced last month to curb or close some of its industrial factories.
Amid concerns pollution was stirring social unrest, China launched a campaign in 2014 to improve the country's tainted air, water and soil, which have been ravaged by more than three decades of breakneck industrial growth.
Hebei authorities said that heavy smog will hit the province from Friday to Sunday, putting most cities in the province's central and southern regions on red alert, Xinhua reported.
Some cities will impose a partial ban on cars driving on the roads, while in the city of Xingtai factories have been told to cut emissions by half, Xinhua said.
Hebei's provincial capital Sjijiazhuang saw its air quality index (AQI) level top 500 on Wednesday, suggesting hazardous pollution levels that can be detrimental to health.
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Stephen Coates)