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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Air Polution in China

22 Oct 2013

Thick smog has badly affected the capital city of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province in north-east China.

A pollution index measuring PM2.5 – particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres – reached a reading of 1000 in some parts of Harbin yesterday.

A level above 300 is considered hazardous, WHO recommends a daily level of no more than 20. These are the first known readings of 1000 since China began releasing figures on PM2.5 in January 2012.

The smog has brought closure to all primary and middle schools, closed the airport and some public bus routes. The emergency is thought to be the result of heating being turned on in the city for winter.

Advice for Travellers

Air pollution can result in cardiovascular or respiratory illnesses or the exacerbation of pre-existing disease. Children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions are at particular risk. Travellers intending to visit the area in the near future should check with the FCO for the most up-to-date information.