- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Senate Dems wary of immigration politics
- Summer camp for 1 percenters: Sushi, limos and shopping at FAO Schwarz
- Colorado gun crackdown law found to be built on faulty data
- Hank Aaron steps to fundraising plate for Democrat Michelle Nunn
- ISIL terrorists blow up burial site of Jonah, vow more of same
- Impeach Obama, say 35 percent in new poll
- Taliban yank 14 Shiites off bus, bind and shoot them on Afghan road
- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
Chinese government up front about smog hazard
Question of the Day
The pollution typically gets worse in the winter because of an increase in coal burning.
“The pollution has affected large areas, lasted for a long time and is of great density. This is rare for Beijing in recent years,” Zhang Dawei, director of Beijing’s environment monitoring center, told a news conference Monday.
According to the government monitoring, levels of PM2.5 particles were above 700 micrograms per cubic meter Saturday, and declined by Monday to levels around 350 micrograms — still far above the World Health Organization’s safety levels of 25.
In separate monitoring by the U.S. Embassy, levels peaked Saturday at 886 micrograms — and the air quality was labeled as “beyond index.”
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Chinese government’s decision since December to monitor and publicize smog levels is a positive development.
She told a news briefing it is “a significant start in terms of taking care of the health and welfare of their own people on this issue.”
Mrs. Nuland added that the U.S. is open to sharing information about how it arrives at its own data on pollution levels.
City authorities ordered many factories to scale back emissions and were spraying water at building sites to try to tamp down dust and dirt that worsen the noxious haze.
Schools in several districts were ordered to cancel outdoor flag-raisings and sports classes, and in an unusual public announcement, Beijing authorities advised all residents to “take measures to protect their health.”
The Beijing Shijitan Hospital received 20 percent more patients than usual at its respiratory health department, most of them coughing and seeking treatment for bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory ailments, Dr. Huang Aiben said.
PM2.5 are tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size, or about 1/30th the average width of a human hair.
They can penetrate deep into the lungs, and measuring them is considered a more accurate reflection of air quality than other methods.
“Because these dust particles are relatively fine, they can be directly absorbed by the lung’s tiny air sacs,” Dr. Huang said. “The airway’s ability to block the fine dust is relatively weak, and so bacteria and viruses carried by the dust can directly enter the airway.”
Prolonged exposure could result in tumors, he added.
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Crime-ridden U.S. cities differ on ways to fight gun violence
- Let it roll: D.C. Council hits Las Vegas on taxpayer's dime, leaves $14,000 tab
- Obama takes aim at 'corporate deserters'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq