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Relentless smog hangs over parts of China

Aly Song / Reuters

A couple wearing a mask and a scarf visits the Bund in front of Pudong Lujiazui financial area on a hazy day in Shanghai on Jan. 16.

Wu Hong / EPA

Waste gas is discharged into the air by an oil refinery plant in Qingdao city, eastern China's Shandong province, on Jan. 16.

Aly Song / Reuters

Travel photos are displayed in a photography service shop at the Bund in front of Pudong Lujiazui financial area on a hazy day in Shanghai on Jan. 16. Chinese media said on Monday the government had to take urgent action to tackle air pollution, which has blanketed parts of the country at dangerous levels in recent days, and one newspaper called for a re-think of a "fixation" on economic growth.

Jianan Yu / Reuters

Children are put on drips as many of them are diagnosed with respiratory diseases at a provincial children's hospital in Hefei, Anhui province on Jan. 16. Days after choking smog blanketed China's capital, the country's premier-designate added his voice to appeals to curb the toxic haze, but he offered few specifics and said there was no quick fix. Particulate matter with a 2.5 micrometer diameter, known as PM2.5, can cause cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infection, according to the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.

Blind growth in China is the cause of the smog that has smothered Chinese cities including Beijing for a week, the government said on Jan. 16 in its first comment on the worsening air quality. Inefficient production methods and the weather were behind the thick, grey air, Vice Prime Minister Li Keqiang was quoted as saying by the state-owned China News Service. 'It warns us once again that we cannot continue the inefficient economic growth model,' he said. Years of rapid growth have vaulted Communist China into second place among the world's largest economies but often at the expense of the environment. The smog has limited visibility, cancelled flights, kept people indoors and sent them to hospitals with breathing, heart and circulation problems.

-- European Pressphoto Agency

Related: Severe Beijing smog prompts unusual transparency

Feng Li / Getty Images

A tourist looks at the Forbidden City as pollution covers the city on Jan. 16 in Beijing.

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