Beijing plans coal pollution clampdown

After off-the-chart air pollution in Beijing in mid-January, the city's acting mayor announced that 450 heavy-polluting coal plants will be closed.

Mayor Wang Anshun also claimed that 180,000 old cars will be taken off Beijing's roads, according to a news report by Xinhua.

Beijing residents, which number 20 million, are demanding better air quality after pollution monitors showed dangerously high levels of particulates.

The official measure of PM2.5, referring to minute airborne particulate matter which is the most hazardous to human health, peaked at 993 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing in mid-January, according to pollution monitors installed at the US Consulate.

The inhalation of fine particular matter over long periods of time can significantly raise rates of lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness.