A sandstorm pollutes the air in northern China
Sylvie Claire / March 23, 2023
Air pollution reached very high levels on Wednesday in Beijing due to a sandstorm, which covered other parts of the country with an orange haze and harmful to health.
The official air quality index in the Chinese capital was stuck at 500, the maximum level recorded, synonymous with "severe pollution". Unofficial readings reported a level twice as high.
Beijing authorities issued weather warnings and urged people to reduce their outdoor activities as visibility fell to less than a kilometer in some places Wednesday morning.
In some areas of northern and northwestern China, including the semi-desert region of Inner Mongolia, high winds and dust have given the sky an ominous orange color.
Because of the airborne sand, visibility was sometimes reduced to a few hundred meters.
According to the authorities, this pollution is mainly due to PM10 particles (with a diameter of less than 10 micrometers), which can be inhaled and aggravate respiratory problems.
Residents of affected areas should "protect themselves well from the wind and sand and close doors and windows," said the weather service, which advises wearing a mask outside.
Children, seniors and people with respiratory allergies should "limit their outings," they also stressed.
Sandstorms are common in northern China in spring, when the wind kicks up dust in this relatively dry part of the country.