Smoked! China orders 1,200 Beijing factories to cut output or shut down over pollution

Red alert was issued by environmental authorities on 16 December after air quality deteriorated.

Beijing pollution
Buildings are seen in smog on a polluted day as a red alert for air pollution is issued in Beijing, China, December 16, 2016. Reuters

Factories in Beijing are fearing a massive slump in production after the government ordered 1,200 industrial units near the Chinese capital to shut down or cut output. This decision by the administration comes following the alarming rise in air pollution in the country.

Major factories, including an oil refinery run by state oil major Sinopec, a Shougang Group steel product plant and a Cofco food plant have also been given the same ultimatum.

Government has also decided to control traffic and construction work in the city after environmental authorities raised the alert to the highest level on 16 December. Warnings were extended to schools and colleges after the environmental protection bureau decided that the red alert will remain in place until 21 December, reported Reuters.

According to a statement by the government, around 500 companies were asked to cut down output limit and 700 companies were asked to stop production altogether after Beijing's AQI (Air Quality Index) recorded 120 on Saturday.

Also read: Beijing issues red alert as air quality worsens to dangerous levels

Red alert is issued when the AQI is expected to break 200 for more than four days in succession, surpass 300 for more than two days or passing the 500 mark for at least 24 hours, reported Reuters.

China Environmental Monitoring Centre said the smog that has engulfed Beijing was due to an accumulation of massive polluting particles in the air. The smog has also spread to the capital city's surrounding areas, including Tianjin city and Hebei, Shandong and Hunan provinces.

On 1 December, Red alert was issued in China's northern Hebei province after the highly toxic air posed unprecedented health emergency.