Shanghai Smog Sets New Air Quality Records, Delays Flights

Smog in Shanghai, China, broke air quality measures on Friday, soaring to extremely dangerous levels. For their safety, schoolchildren were ordered indoors. However, the smog is so dense that it even began to creep inside buildings. So thick was the air pollution that visibility in Shanghai was cut to just a few dozen yards in many places. This led to a number of flights being delayed to wait for safer conditions.

Authorities in Shanghai were quick to respond to the record levels of smog, issuing the highest level of health warnings Friday, according to Reuters. One-third of government vehicles were temporarily pulled off the city streets in an effort to quickly improve local air quality. Construction and factory activity were also ordered reduced or stopped. Outdoor public events and fireworks were also banned.

Increasingly dangerous levels of air pollution may be keeping Shanghai, China’s growing financial hub, from becoming a business center comparable to New York City or London. While city officials have expressed a wish to grow to such standings within seven years, others say the poor air quality makes life difficult for Shanghai’s citizens. Friday’s record smog day, saw air quality index levels vary between a whopping 23 times to 31 times internationally recommended standards, according to Reuters.

The intense fog in Shanghai Friday shows the failure of officials to combat worsening air quality levels across China. While Shanghai typically has moderate air pollution at its worst, recent weather activity meant the smog remained trapped in the city.

Several Twitter users uploaded their images of the smog-filled city:

Business Insider examines the other major factors leading to the record Shanghai smog levels. Not only is the weather failing to disperse the smog, the recent temperature drops have led to more coal being burned. With it being the Christmas shopping season, factories are also increasing their output this month. The combination, along with the ever increasing number of cars filling Shanghai’s streets, created a record day of smog.

Residents living through the hazardous Shanghai smog worry about their health. As Reuters reports, one man who works in Shanghai says that the air is unlivable. But, he says, “I have no choice. I still need to work. I can only take preventive measures but I have no idea whether they work,” referring to the use of paper or cloth face masks.

Though city officials have taken steps to raise Shanghai’s air quality in the short-term, it is clear that discussion about long-term measures to combat smog will need to become real-world action soon.

[Featured image via Twitter / Ivan Pesic]