Living amidst the smog of China
A police officer wears a face mask as he keeps watch in front of Tiananmen Gate on a polluted day in Beijing, China, January 3, 2017. Reuters

Beijing has issued its first orange smog alert on Friday after it forecasted heavy air pollution over the next four days. This second-highest alert in China's four-tier emergency response system comes ahead of winter season.

According to a notice that was posted on, a website affiliated with China's National Meteorological Administration, the vehicles with National I and II emission standards and trucks transporting waste earth and construction debris will be banned from roads between Nov 4 and Nov 8.

During the bitterly cold winters, large parts of northern China suffer from chronic smog because much of the heating demand is still met by coal. Pollution alerts during the winter pollution season are common in the region - a problem that the government has struggled to solve despite a multi-year effort.

The authorities in smog-blighted northern provinces such as Hebei, Henan, Shandong and Shanxi have urged their major industrial cities to slash steel output ahead of winter. This is a part of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's smog battle plan to cut levels of hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5 air pollutants by more than a quarter in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area by 2017 from 2012 levels.

However, the measures that were taken so far had little effect or no effect. In September, the PM2.5 concentration levels in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area remained at around 52 micrograms, which was similar to last year.

Last month, China's Environment Minister Li Ganjie acknowledged the government's efforts to meet air quality targets for the year face "huge difficulties," and has asked for the public's patience.