Smog in northern China drives face masks out of stock
BEIJING (AFP) - China's biggest online face-mask sellers were running out of stock on Wednesday as consumers rushed to protect themselves from smog that has shrouded large swathes of northern China for a week.
Beijing's official reading for PM 2.5 - small airborne particles which easily penetrate the lungs and have been linked to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths - stood at 501 micrograms per cubic metre on Wednesday afternoon. The World Health Organisation's recommended safe limit is 25.
The situation was improving, however, with the reading for a location in the centre of the capital recorded at 100 by Wednesday evening.
An alternative measure by the US embassy in Beijing said PM 2.5 levels were at 542 in the city in the afternoon but had fallen to 180 in the evening.