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Beijing Issues Its First Ever 'Red Alert' Over Air Pollution

A tourist takes a selfie near the Turret of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The city issued a "red alert" Monday over dangerous levels of air pollution.

For the first time since it instituted a warning system in 2013, Beijing has issued a "red alert" over dangerous levels of air pollution.

The state news agency Xinhua reported that the city's air is thick with smog and the skyline is obscured by the haze.

The agency reports:

"This is the first time the capital has issued the red alert, which will last from 7:00 a.m. Tuesday to 12:00 p.m. Thursday.

"According to the city's emergency management headquarters, during a red alert, kindergartens, primary and high schools are advised to suspend classes, outdoor operations of construction sites are banned and some industrial plants are required to limit or stop production.

"Car use will be limited as cars are allowed on the roads on alternating days depending on the odd or even numbers of their license plates. In addition, 30 percent of government cars will be banned from streets on an odd/even basis."

Of course, the smog in China and India has been in the news for the past week. As NPR's Anthony Kuhn and Julie McCarthy reported, record breaking levels of pollution coincided with global talks on climate change in Paris.

At one point, Anthony reported, the levels of pollutants in Beijing "hit levels about 20 times higher than what the World Health Organization says are safe."

The BBC reports that at the moment, pollution levels are lower than they were last week but "red alert has been placed because of levels expected over the coming days."

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