Goodbye “parade blue”—air pollution in Beijing is back to the unhealthy levels feared by residents


Chinese president Xi Jinping declared at his nation’s  Sept. 3 military parade that justice, peace, and the people will prevail. But apparently, the blue skies in Beijing won’t.

Just a week before, residents were still amazed by the city’s rare blue skies, as the level of PM2.5—particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter that can lodge in the lungs—had reached a record low for eight days straight since Aug. 20. The so-called “parade blue” color—perfect for photographs—was ensured by strict government controls, which included banning cars and shutting down factories.

With the military parade over, Beijing ended such controls after midnight on Sept. 3 (link in Chinese). Thousands of factories and construction sites resumed operations. Cars are back on the roads, with about half of them having been restricted based on the time of the day and whether the last numbers of license plates were odd or even (link in Chinese).

So the…

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