In this photo by Ng Han Guan, a pedestrian wears a mask against heavy pollution as she crosses an underpass in Beijing. By the evening rush hour on Monday, the reading of fine particulates below 2.5 micrometers in size had surpassed 350 — 14 times the level considered safe. Pollution in Beijing is blamed mainly on heavy industry in surrounding regions, along with an explosion in the number of private vehicles and the burning of coal to generate electricity. Faced with a public health crisis, the city's government is hoping this year to arrest the trend by reducing coal consumption by 4 million tons, shutting down 300 factories and retiring 200,000 heavily polluting vehicles.
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