BEIJING — The smog is so bad even the statues wear masks. Or at least they do in pictures of a campus stunt that circulated online Tuesday as parts of northern China suffered a sixth straight day of severe pollution.
After being cooped inside because of the bad air, a psychology student at Peking University ventured out to place the masks on campus statues of Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes, Communist Party co-founder Li Dazhao and a sage practicing tai chi.
"I was feeling really low, so I came up with this idea," Jiang Chao said in a telephone interview.
Beijing remained cloaked in hazardous white pollution hiding much of its skyline Tuesday, despite the announced closures or production cuts at 147 of the city's industrial plants.
On Tuesday morning, readings of particulate matter known as PM2.5, a key measure of pollution, reached 444 micrograms per cubic meter in central Beijing, according to the National Meteorological Center. The World Health Organization considers 25 micrograms a safe level.
The meteorological center said moderate or severe pollution had persisted in northern China since Thursday, and that it was particularly serious in Beijing and its surrounding area. It forecast that the pollution would continue in parts of eastern, northern and central China until Wednesday evening, when precipitation and wind should help to disperse it.