China’s capital Beijing was hit by the biggest sandstorm in nearly a decade, with the city’s skies turning orange, it was chocking in dust and sand on Monday.
Beijing clocked in thick yellow smog because the storm caused a huge spike in air pollution measurements – with pollution levels in some districts at 160 times the recommended limit. The visibility in most areas was less than 500 meters as seen by the photos from Beijing. Where the cars and skyscrapers can be seen shrouded in a thick haze.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled or grounded and the city’s government prohibited students from engaging in outdoor activities. Local media news was advising people to wash their faces and cover their nose when going out.
The reports are saying the yellow sand storm is bought by strong winds from Mongolia where six people have died and 81 missings according to reports.
According to Chinese weather agencies, The sand storm is the reason for the poor quality of air in Beijing. The air quality indexes recording a “hazardous” rating in at least 12 provinces and the capital. The air quality in Beijing was rated ”serious” which is the highest among the six levels.
The index is measured by the concentration of the different pollutants in the air. The most dangerous being the smaller PM 2.5 particles which lodges deep into the lungs and cause respiratory diseases. Beijing measured a maximum of 655 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday. The World Health Organization considers anything above 25 to be unsafe.
Decades of deforestation in China used to bring monthly sandstorms to Beijing and other parts of China, but a government-sponsored tree-planting program in recent years has reduced their frequency since then. According to the reports, fewer and weaker sandstorms are hitting the country since their efforts.