A Montrealer experiences Beijing's notorious air pollution

Elvis Anber, who moved to China's capital three years ago, has a new appreciation for the fresh air back home.

Smog reaches dangerously high levels, residents advised not to leave home

Vehicles travel through a main thoroughfare during a hazy day in Beijing, China. (Wu Hong/EPA)

A Montrealer living in Beijing has a new appreciation for the fresh air back home.

The city reached dangerously high levels of air pollution on Thursday — reaching 423 on the city's air quality index, on a scale of 500. 

On their four-tier smog alert system, Beijing weather authorities announced a yellow alert, one step below the extremely dangerous red alert.

CBC Montreal's Daybreak caught up with former Montrealer Elvis Anber to talk about what it's like to live in the pollution-ridden city.

'Thick smog that's hovering in the sky'

A Chinese wearing mask takes a selfie photo in a shopping street during a hazy day in Beijing. (Wu Hong/EPA)

Anber said he couldn't see much when looking out his apartment window and that the smog would likely continue until tomorrow.

"There is this sort of thick haze, thick smog that's hovering in the sky, and it's been like this all day," he said.

Beijing residents check the pollution index as much as they check the weather, and when it's this high, you can't open your windows, according to Anber.

"To let in that fresh air, that's something we take for granted in Canada," Anber said.

"Maybe when it's about 100 or below, you can open up the window to let in some fresh air. You really shouldn't be out when the pollution is this high, especially over prolonged periods of time."

Steps forward

Elvis Anber moved to Beijing three and a half years ago. (Facebook)
Despite the dangerous smog, Anber has noticed that the Beijing government has made changes to aid pollution control.

They have been closing down factories in the surrounding province and moving them to more remote locations.

"We are seeing a noticeable difference," Anber said.

"This has now become a topic of conversation among the population here, which was not true just a few short years ago. This is something the [government] are aware of."