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Clear skies over Beijing as smog disappears after red alert

The hazardous haze which engulfed Beijing prompting the government to issue first-ever red alert for heavy smog, dissipated on Thursday as the city woke up to clear skies. The two-day red alert was expected to be lifted following clearing skies today, state-run CCTV reported.

The PM 2.5 levels, the main gauge to measure pollution by the US Embassy Monitor here dropped to around 100 on Thursday after touching nearly 400 in the last two days. An over night cold wind reported to have blown the polluted smog out of the city’s skies.

Under the red alert, kindergartens, primary and high schools have been ordered to be closed, car use has been restricted with odd and even number plates and outdoor operations of construction sites halted.

A number of industrial plants have been ordered to limit or stop production. The Ministry of Environmental Protection Emergency said that the measures cut pollutant emissions in Beijing by 30 per cent.

Without the measures, the density of PM 2.5, tiny and particularly hazardous airborne particles, would have risen by 10%, environmentalists with Beijing University of Technology said.

The density of PM 2.5 sulfates, commonly caused by coal-burning, was much higher on Tuesday while the air held far less PM 2.5 nitrates, mostly emitted by vehicles, Chai Fahe, deputy head of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences told state run Xinhua news agency.

This indicated that the traffic restrictions were effective but more work needs to be done to reduce emissions from coal burning, Chai said.

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