Beijing had its worst dusty air of the year Thursday, as the air quality index reached level five,the worst rating on a five-point scale.
A sandstorm swept from northwest China to Beijing at about 4:00a.m., entered the city's urban districts one hour later and reaching its peak at 6:00 a.m.
According to air monitoring centers in the national capital early Thursday, suspended particles exceeded 1,500 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
"I saw cars blanketed with a thick layer of dust when I went outdoors at 6:30 a.m. The air was so filthy that I could hardly breathe," said a female resident, surnamed Zhao, in eastern Chaoyang District of Beijing.
The local weather forest department predicted that the dusty weather will linger in the city for another day. A possible showeron Saturday will improve the city's air quality.
Though the dusty air has lowered visibility, it didn't affect traffic on highways and expressways. The environmental department advised people to stay indoors or try to reduce the time spent ourtdors for the sake of their health.