Heavy smog blanketed China’s financial hub Shanghai, causing air pollution in the city to spike to a record high on Friday (December 6).
The city saw levels of PM2.5, or particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers, reach a reading of 600 at 3 p.m. local time (0700 GMT), the local environmental protection bureau said.
Levels above 300 are considered hazardous, while the World Health Organisation recommends a daily level of no more than 20.
Visibility was reduced to less than 50 metres (164 feet) in some areas in the city.
Some flights have been diverted or cancelled as a result, and facial masks were snapped up from shop shelves.
Residents complained about hazy skies and foul smells that have become symptomatic of the country’s crippling smog crisis.
“I have difficulty in breathing. I feel uncomfortable. My throat felt funny after I went home. I hate going outside. It was fine in the subway. But the air quality is terrible outdoors. Visibility is also bad, as well as my mood,” said 34-year-old Xue Zhiyu.
Another Shanghai dweller, Fan Jianjun, said he was alarmed when he saw that the pollution reading on Friday morning was off the charts.
“I don’t think it’s fit for humans to live in this kind of environment. But I have no choice. I still need to go to work. I can only take some precautions, and I have no idea whether they work. I just want to give myself some comfort. That’s all,” Fan said.
Smog has been plaguing a large swathe of eastern China for days. Pollution has all but shut down Harbin, one of northeastern China’s largest cities, where visibility was reportedly reduced to 10 metres (33 feet).
Meteorological authorities expect the hazy weather to ease from Saturday (December 7) when a cold front hits.