HAZARDOUS HAZE

Photos: The smog that’s choking Beijing as it faces the worst pollution of 2016

Obsession
China's Transition
Obsession
China's Transition

Beijing sent out its highest level of smog alert on Dec. 16 for the first time this year, suspending schools and restricting cars on the road while the city remains shrouded in a visible—and toxic—fog.

By 5 pm today (Dec. 19), Beijing’s PM 2.5, the fine particulate matter in its air, had reached 460 in some areas, according to the air quality index (AQI). The city’s 21 million citizens are wearing masks and staying indoors to protect themselves against these hazardous levels, which could have serious health effects and are expected to continue until Dec. 21.

The real time air quality map of Beijing as of 5 pm on Dec.19, 2016

Here are some images from a city living under a fog these last few days:

Vehicles drive on the 5th Ring Road in smog during morning rush hour on the fourth day after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing, China, December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee - RTX2VLZG
Vehicles drive on the 5th Ring Road during morning rush hour on the fourth day after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing. (Reuters/Jason Lee)
Pigeons fly in heavy smog during a polluted day in Beijing, China, December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA. - RTX2VLIT
Pigeons fly in heavy smog on Dec.19 in Beijing. (Reuters/Stringer)
Parents with their children wait at a holding room of a children's hospital in Beijing, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. A smog-shrouded Chinese city canceled airline flights Sunday due to poor visibility and many parents took children to hospitals on the second day of a pollution alert across the country's north. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Parents with their children wait at a holding room of a children’s hospital on Dec. 18, 2016. (AP/Andy Wong)
Artist Liu Bolin wearing a vest with 24 mobile phones walks in smog as he live broadcasts air pollution in the city on the fourth day after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing, China, December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee - RTX2VLZ9
Artist Liu Bolin, wearing a vest with 24 mobile phones, live broadcasts air pollution in the city on the fourth day after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing—Dec.19, 2016. (Reuters/Jason Lee)
Chinese people wearing masks for protection against pollution walk at Ritan Park shrouded by heavy smog in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. Chinese cities are limiting the number of cars on roads and have temporarily shut down factories to cut down pollution during a national "red alert" for smog. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
People wearing masks for protection walk at Ritan Park in Beijing, on Dec. 19, 2016. (AP/Andy Wong)
Chinese paramilitary policemen wearing masks for protection against pollution march as the capital city is shrouded by smog in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. Chinese cities are limiting the number of cars on roads and have temporarily shut down factories to cut down pollution during a national "red alert" for smog. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Chinese paramilitary police, wearing masks for protection, march in Beijing on Dec. 19, 2016. (AP/Andy Wong)
People wearing masks stand in smog during a heavily polluted day in Beijing, China, December 17, 2016. Picture taken December 17, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA. - RTX2VHZM
People wearing masks stand roadside on a heavily polluted day in Beijing on Dec.17,2016. (Reuters/China Daily)
A Chinese man wears a mask while watching people play ice hockey on a frozen river while haze hangs over downtown Beijing city, China, 16 December 2016. Officials in China's capital Beijing issued a red alert for air pollution, which is expected to last until 21 December. EPA/WU HONG
A man wears a mask while watching people play ice hockey on a frozen river on Dec.16, 2016. (EPA/Wu Hong)
Haze hangs over downtown Beijing on Dec.16,2016. 16 December 2016. Officials in China's capital Beijing issued a red alert for air pollution, which is expected to last until 21 December. EPA/WU HONG
A haze hangs over downtown Beijing on Dec.16, 2016. (EPA/Wu Hong)
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