With some 15% of the country currently blanketed by choking smog, China has announced an orange alert and is sending teams of investigators out to major polluters in Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei province.
Sites producing steel, glass, cement and coal will be visited, and those violating production standards will be named and shamed.
“First of all pollution makes commuting horrible as no-one wants to be exposed to dirty air. Second, and most important, it affects our health. My throat feels very uncomfotable of late. And thirdly, it affects our mood, which is certainly different on smoggy days to those when there are blues skies and sun,” said one Beijing resident.
While the Chinese authorities have issued a string of anti-pollution directives, at a local level enforcement has been sporadic as the local administrations often rely on the taxes the polluting industries provide.
The orange alert in Beijing advises schools to cancel sports, and other emergency measures include restricting car use, halting construction work, and banning barbecues.