China Demands Emission Cuts as Year’s Worst Smog Chokes Beijing

China called for better coordination to cut emissions after a sixth day of heavy smog engulfed much of the northern part of the country and spurred the year’s highest alert.

With the toxic haze shrouding the capital Beijing, coastal Tianjin, and surrounding Hebei province, the environmental protection ministry called for cities to coordinate anti-emission measures such as halting industrial production and banning vehicles from roads. Beijing’s red alert for air pollution was its first of this year, keeping schools closed.

Better coordination is needed as “cities by themselves couldn’t control the smog,” the ministry said on its website. It said 27 northern municipalities have issued red pollution alerts, the highest on a four-tier scale, amid the second bout of serious smog this month.

The concentration of PM2.5, considered the most dangerous to human health, reached 423 micrograms per cubic meter in central Beijing as of 1 p.m., according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitor Center. That’s more than 16 times the World Health Organization’s recommended level of exposure over a 24-hour period. A gauge at the U.S. embassy showed the pollution level at 396 as of 1 p.m. and as high as 490 on Tuesday.

A QuickTake explainer on China’s pollution

Children and the elderly have been told to remain indoors as the warning remains in effect. Heavy pollution was forecast to subside Thursday, according to the center.

Eleven company owners in Handan City, Hebei, were detained for polluting, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday. The city halted production at 332 factories, ordered 630 companies to cut emissions, and dispatched more than 800 officials to oversee controls.

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