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More smog in Beijing

Beijing's air pollution worsened further on Tuesday (January 29), deepening public concern about the thick smog which has highlighted the long-term environmental challenges facing the city. The capital's official air quality monitoring system showed that readings hovered over 400 on an index that measures particulate matter in the air with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers, known as PM2.5. A level of 300 is considered dangerous while the World Health Organisation recommends a daily level of no more than 20. On January 12, levels exceeded 700, causing a public outcry. Since then, the city's air quality had dipped in and out of the most serious levels of air pollution. A thick grey pall hung over Chang'an Avenue, the massive, often-congested road which runs through the city centre. At Beijing's children's hospital, parents holding babies and young children sat in the corridor beside the respiratory illness ward while many children could be seen on intravenous drips. High levels of PM2.5 can cause cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infection, according to the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Many people walking and cycling on the streets were wearing face masks to block out the fumes. China's state-run media has been unusually vocal about the pollution crisis, calling on authorities to move away from a 'growth at all costs' development model.

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