Gray China

According to the World Health Organization, chronic exposure to high concentrations of these particles increases the risks for cardiovascular and repository diseases, as well as lung cancer.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that much of northeastern China remained under a shroud of heavy smog, which again forced the closing of roads, schools, and a major airport, for the second day in a row.

On Monday, Harbin, a city located in the Heilongjiang province approximately 657 miles northeast of Beijing, reportedly reached 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter of health particles known as PM2.5. According to the World Health Organization, chronic exposure to high concentrations of these particles increases the risks for cardiovascular and repository diseases, as well as lung cancer. On Tuesday morning, air-monitoring stations reported a maximum air-quality index of 500, which eased by early evening. The readings are extremely rare by U.S. standards and typically occur during events such as forest fires.

Remarkably, China's Ministry of Environmental Protection said Tuesday the northern region of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei held the worst air-pollution ranking in the third quarter, with air quality below China's government standards 62 percent of the time. Beijing and the industrial city of Tianjin are located in the Hebei province.

The Wall Street Journal further reported a spokesperson for the city of Beijing's environmental protection bureau blamed Harbin's recent buildup of air pollution on poor weather patterns rather than on the start of the winter heating season, which began Sunday. The Chinese rely on coal burning to generate heat. However, Beijing's city government considers cement and steel industries the heavy polluters, as well as car emissions. Beijing has imposed limits on car purchases and plans to control the cement and steel industries.

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