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China: Thick smog in Harbin
Monday, October 21st, 2013

Classes were suspended, planes were grounded and traffic was reduced to a crawl as visibility was reduced to 33 feet in some areas. 

An index measuring PM2.5, or particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), reached a reading of 1,000 in some parts of the city, which is the capital of Heilongjiang province. 

A level above 300 is considered hazardous, while the World Health Organization recommends a daily level of no more than 20.

While schools and the airport closed due to the dangerous air quality, it was business as usual elsewhere in the city, which meant people walked, cycled or drove to work as usual. 

 

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Buildings and streets are seen under heavy smog in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang province on October 22, 2013. Thick smog enveloped a major Chinese city for a third day on October 22, with schools and a regional airport shut and poor visibility forcing ground transport to a halt in places.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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A truck is seen waiting outside a toll booth after it is shuttered as heavy smog spreads on a highway as vehicles are forced to wait due to heavy smog in Jilin, northeast China's Jilin province on October 22, 2013. Thick smog enveloped China's northeast area for a third day on October 22, with schools and regional airports shuttered and low visibility forcing ground transport to a halt in places.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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A toll booth is shut down as heavy smog spreads on a highway as vehicles are forced to wait due to heavy smog in Jilin, northeast China's Jilin province on October 22, 2013. Thick smog enveloped China's northeast area for a third day on October 22, with schools and regional airports shuttered and low visibility forcing ground transport to a halt in places.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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A policeman directs traffic in thick smog in China's northeastern city of Harbin on Oct. 21, 2013.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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A woman wearing a mask uses her mobile phone in thick smog in Harbin on Oct. 21, 2013. An index measuring PM2.5, or particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), reached a reading of 1,000 in some parts of the city. A level above 300 is considered hazardous.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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A man pushes his bike up a ramp to a bridge in thick smog in Harbin on Oct. 21, 2013. The Chinese city's official news site said: “You can’t see your own fingers in front of you."

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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A woman wearing a mask covers her mouth with her hands for extra protection as she walks through thick smog in Harbin on Oct. 21, 2013. The smog not only forced all primary and middle schools to suspend classes, but shut the airport and some public bus routes, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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Motorists and pedestrians are barely visible in the thick smog enveloping Harbin on Oct. 21, 2013. Official news sites blamed the choking smog on the first day of the heating being turned on in the city for winter.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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Buildings in the Chinese city of Harbin, famous for its ice sculpture festival, are barely visible in the thick smog, which is expected to continue for the next 24 hours.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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Local residents dance in heavy smog in Harbin on Oct. 21, 2013. Visibility in the northeastern Chinese city was reduced to 33 feet.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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A workman carries a road barrier in Harbin on Oct. 21, 2013. Thick smog caused traffic snarls in the northeastern Chinese city where visibility was reduced to 33 feet.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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A bird's-eye view of traffic and streets enveloped in thick smog in Harbin on Oct. 21, 2013.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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A man stands next to a plane in Harbin on Oct. 21, 2013. Thick smog forced the closure of the northeastern Chinese city's airport after visibility was cut to 33 feet in some areas.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
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