Concentrations of airborne pollutants in a major northern Chinese city have exceeded a World Health Organisation guideline by 100 times as north China battles with poor air quality for the third straight day.

In Shijiazhuang, capital of northern Hebei province, levels of PM 2.5, fine particulate matter, soared to 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.

That compares with a WHO guideline of an annual average of no more than 10 micrograms.

In nearby Tianjin city, authorities grounded dozens of flights for the second day and closed all highways after severe smog blanketed the port city, one of more than 40 in China's northeast to issue pollution warnings.

PM 2.5 levels hit 334 micrograms per cubic metre in Tianjin as of 4pm local time, according to local environmental protection authorities.

In Beijing, PM 2.5 levels were at 212 micrograms per cubic metre.

On Saturday, 22 cities issued red alerts, including top steelmaking city Tangshan city in Hebei and Jinan in coal-rich Shandong province. A red alert is the highest possible air pollution warning.

Red alerts are issued when the Air Quality Index is forecast to exceed 200 for more than four days in succession, 300 for more than two days or 500 for at least 24 hours. The AQI is a different measure from the PM 2.5 gauge.

Pollution alerts have become increasingly common in China's northern industrial heartland, especially during winter when energy demand - much of it met by coal - skyrockets.

AQI readings at some monitoring stations in seven cities in Hebei peaked above 400 on Monday, with Shijiazhuang and two other cities breaking above the 500 limit, Xinhua said.

Anything above 300 is considered hazardous by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The National Meteorological Centre warned on Monday on its microblog that this round of pollution is expected to affect 10 provinces, along with the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin, hitting as far south as Jiangsu and Anhui.

  • The culture of the Chinese Communist Party is no different to the Governments of China hundreds of years ago. Ordinary people are disposable. China has millions of people waiting to take the place of those that die or become incapacitated. In the Middle East safety of workers is not considered. They have spare Indians sitting on the ground to take the place of those that are killed or injured. The Middle East work place is far better than India.
    Only a few decades ago the cancer rate of people in the inner area of Melbourne was the highest in Australia because of the industrial pollution. It still has bad air pollution when the wind is not blowing a gale.
    Australian Governments are not very different to the Chinese attitude and what they do to ordinary people with pollution.
    They are building a new school for working class people in Melbourne where the pollution level is the worst in Melbourne. Voiceless uneducated people can be roasted, boiled or fried; nothing is going to be said. What else do you do with cheap land that nobody wants? The former school sites on high ground have been sold.
    A friend says the working class deserves what they going to get as they voted for the Government that is going to rape their children and voted for the former Government that sold their former school ground.