BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s capital will step up air quality monitoring, a senior city official said, after recent severe pollution prompted authorities to issue a first smog “red alert”.
Rapid industrial growth and car ownership have led to surging levels of air pollution in major urban areas and Chinese researchers have identified the problem as a major source of discontent.
Beijing was shrouded in acrid smog and under a pollution red alert for part of this week.
A red alert is triggered when the government believes air quality will surpass a level of 200 on an air quality index that measures various pollutants for at least three days.
The U.S. government deems a level of more than 200 “very unhealthy”.
The city will double the number air-quality monitoring stations from 36 and will also dispatch “mobile monitoring vehicles”, the official Xinhua news agency cited Beijing vice mayor Li Shixiang as saying.
Li also said law enforcement of rules aimed at cutting pollution, such as suspending work at polluting businesses, should be improved.
“There are enterprises that close while you check them and open soon after you leave,” he said.
A red alert triggers restrictions on vehicles while schools are closed, businesses recommended to allow flexible hours and the government advises that all “large-scale, outdoor activity” be stopped.
China’s frequent problems with smog underscore the challenge facing the government as it struggles with the impact of a coal-burning power industry.
Environmental Protection Minister Chen Jining has vowed to punish agencies and officials for any failure to quickly implement a pollution emergency response plan, state media has reported.
Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Robert Birsel