The air quality in Beijing Municipality fell to dangerous levels today as smog returned to haunt the city after just a few days of respite.

The weather forecast bureau has issued yellow alerts, the third highest level following red and orange, for fog and haze, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Visibility in the city’s southern region was expected to be less than 500 metres during day time. A haze with a visibility of less than 3,000 metres was expected to cover most of the city.

Fog started lingering in the city since last night, taking the PM2.5 concentration to between 300 and 400 microgrammes per cubic meter of air, or Level VI, which is at a dangerous level, according to Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center statistics.

PM2.5 refers to fine particulate matter that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter.

The city’s environmental protection departments have advised residents, especially the elderly and children to stay indoors, and urged relevant departments to tell companies to take measures to curb emissions.

According to the weather forecast, it was expected to snow in evening which could help improve the air quality.

Beijing residents suffered from heavy smog for seven days through until Wednesday, when a cold front with wind dispersed it.

The air quality indices were off the charts during the seven days, exceeding the “maximum” level of 500 in Beijing, as well as in many other cities in central and north China.

(This article was published on January 19, 2013)
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