Shanghai pollution reaches epic levels, shuts down schools, cancels flights


A man flies kite at The Bund on December 5, 2013 in Shanghai, China. Heavy smog continued to hit northern and eastern parts of China on Thursday, disturbing traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools.



A thick cloud of smog has enveloped Shanghai and other parts of eastern China over the last week, canceling flights and closing schools.

The fog clouded the city's epic skyline and streets emptied, as pedestrians avoided breathing the thick yellow pollution.

Authorities ordered schools closed on Friday, and called a halt on construction.

They also banned 30 percent of government vehicles from the road, fireworks, and all public sporting events, which could pose safety threats.

Stores quickly sold out of air purifiers and face masks.

The thick smog reduced visibility, delaying flights to and from Pudong airport.

More from GlobalPost: Is China's pollution really getting worse?

Particles in the air reached a toxic 602.5 micrograms per cubic meter Friday afternoon, a record-breaking number.

The World Health Organization's standards define 25 micrograms as safe for breathing.

Levels above 300 are considered extremely hazardous to health.

In this instance, burning coal, factory pollution and car exhaust are believed to have come together in a deadly combination, producing the smog.

Although Shagnhai is not usually known for serious air quality problems, recent weather patterns have caused air to stagnate over the city.