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    Dec 16, 2015

    Shanghai hit by hazardous smog a day before global tech talks


    HEAVY smog enveloped Shanghai yesterday, as the most dangerous air contaminants reached a two-year peak, prompting schools to ban outdoor activities and the authorities to limit work at construction sites and factories.

    The smog reduced visibility and drove the eastern Chinese city's air quality index above 300, a level deemed "hazardous" and which can have a long-term impact on health, Reuters reported.

    The levels of PM2.5 tiny pollutants hit 281 micrograms per cubic metre, the highest since Dec 26, 2013, according to data compiled by the United States Department of State, reported Bloomberg.

    The World Health Organisation recommends that people should not be exposed to more than 25 micrograms per cubic metre per day.

    The smog prompted Shanghai authorities to issue a "yellow alert", the third-highest level warning below red and orange, and to advise elderly, young and sick residents to remain indoors and keep the windows closed.

    Shanghai's heavy smog arrived just a day before it hosts the closely watched World Internet Conference, which will feature a speech by President Xi Jinping.

    Attendees are expected to include global tech industry titans and the leaders of some countries.

    "Because of (the smog) my kid often gets sick, often has a stuffy nose and a cough," Valen Wang, 40, a full-time mother in Shanghai, told Reuters.

    "At the moment, the pollution feels like it just keeps on getting worse."

    Some Shanghai residents donned masks to filter the air, while others shunned protection.

    "My throat is rather dry and it hurts," Cao Yonglong, a 30-year-old delivery man, said. "I keep wanting to drink water."

    According to Shanghai Meteorological Bureau, the city's air condition had worsened since Monday as polluted air mass in northern China was blown in by the north-westerly wind.

    FX678, a financial news website, said Shanghai's pollution has become a major concern since 2013 as the city had been shrouded in smog for weeks during the past two winters.

    The American Chamber of Commerce has warned that the annual smog is hurting the image of Shanghai and would affect investment, said the website.

    In 2013, Shanghai's government released an action plan that aimed to cut PM2.5 levels by 20 per cent by 2017 from 2012 levels.

    China's pollution is causing a headache nationwide, with bad air sometimes causing flight delays.

    Last week, hazardous pollution levels in Beijing triggered the capital's first "red alert" - meaning some vehicles were ordered off the roads, classes were cancelled and heavy vehicles banned.