Beijing has issued a red alert for air pollution for the first time, with local Chinese authorities advising that schools suspend classes.
State news agency Xinhua reported that the highest alert level -- upgraded Monday afternoon -- would be in effect from 07.00 a.m. Tuesday (2300 Monday GMT) until noon Thursday.
It cited Beijing’s Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center as saying that the heavy air pollution is expected to diffuse Thursday afternoon due to an approaching cold front.
During a red alert, kindergarteners, primary and high schools are recommended to not hold classes, according to the city’s emergency management headquarters.
Outdoor construction activities are also suspended.
Car use is limited as only those with even- or odd-number license plates, and only 30 percent of government vehicles, are permitted on the roads on given days.
The red alert was the first issued since Beijing adopted its air pollution emergency response program in 2013.
Meanwhile, China’s weather service has issued an orange alert -- the second highest level -- for smog for northern parts of the country.
The National Meteorological Center announced that the industrial municipality of Tianjin and parts of the nearby provinces of Hebei, Henan and Shandong will face moderate smog.
Areas of Shanxi and Shaanxi, as well as Jiangsu and Anhui provinces in the east, will also be affected.
Heavy smog has become a major environmental issue in China, with Beijing being subject to frequent air pollution that exceeds safety limits.
China was ranked as the leading carbon dioxide emissions producer in 2014, followed by the United States.
China declared a "war" on pollution last year amid increasing public concern over the environment and health impacts.
Due to rapid development and industrialization, many of the country's biggest cities rank among the most polluted urban centers in the world.
By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun