Smog in Beijing

Many factories and chemical plants have suspended production in Beijing in an attempt to curb dangerous pollution, according to the South China Morning Post. The air pollution is some of the worst the city has seen in years, with harmful PM2.5 particle rates hovering between 200 and 400 micrograms per cubic meter. That number is down from as high as 886 on Sunday. For contrast, the US Environmental Protection Agency regulations say PM2.5 concentration at any location be no higher than 65 micrograms per cubic meter, with average maximums not to exceed 15 micrograms per cubic meter.

China blames the pollution on vehicle emissions, industrial production and an increase in domestic coal use to heat homes during cold weather. A total of 48 work sites, including construction zones, metal refineries and chemical plants have suspended production, and 41 factories have cut back production as well. That includes Hyundai Motor Beijing, which suspended production on Sunday.

Even so, the area's children's hospitals are receiving up to 10,000 patients per day with respiratory ailments. The city's government says it is in the midst of an eight-year plan to curb pollution and that levels have dropped between 30 and 70 percent over the past 14 years thanks to its actions.