Pollution hides Beijing skyline; statues get masks

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Pollution hides Beijing skyline; statues get masks
Chinese commuters wear face masks as heavy air pollution continues to shroud Beijing on February 25, 2014. China's cities are often hit by heavy pollution, blamed on coal-burning by power stations and industry, as well as vehicle use, and it has become a major source of discontent with the ruling Communist Party. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese commuters wear face masks as heavy air pollution continues to shroud Beijing on February 25, 2014. China's cities are often hit by heavy pollution, blamed on coal-burning by power stations and industry, as well as vehicle use, and it has become a major source of discontent with the ruling Communist Party. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 24: (CHINA OUT) People wear masks while walk at Tiananmen Square in haze on February 24, 2014, in Beijing, China. Altogether 1.43 million sq km of China's land territory, nearly 15 percent of the total, have been covered by persistent smog in recent days, according to news report. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 24: (CHINA OUT) The photo shows a statue doing tai chi being covered with a mask by the photographer at Peking University on February 22, 2014, in Beijing, China. Altogether 1.43 million sq km of China's land territory, nearly 15 percent of the total, have been covered by persistent smog in recent days, according to news report. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 24: (CHINA OUT) Buildings are shrouded in heavy smog at Guomao on February 24, 2014, in Beijing, China. Altogether 1.43 million sq km of China's land territory, nearly 15 percent of the total, have been covered by persistent smog in recent days, according to news report. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 20: (CHINA OUT) Vehicles are driven along a road in smog on February 20, 2014 in Beijing, China. Beijing issued a yellow alert for heavy air pollution over the next three days. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
This picture taken on February 24, 2014 shows a woman wearing a mask in haze-covered Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Dangerous smog which has blighted swathes of northern China in recent days has prompted a spike in air purifier sales, local media reported Monday, as pollution continued to shroud Beijing. China's National Meteorological Centre issued a 'yellow' smog alert for much of the country's north on Monday, the fifth consecutive day of heavy pollution which has slashed visibility and seen pollution reach hazardous levels. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on February 23, 2014 shows a man wearing a mask using his mobile phone on haze-covered Tiananmen Square in Beijing. China's National Meteorological Centre issued a 'yellow' smog alert for much of the country's north, the fifth consecutive day of heavy pollution which has slashed visibility and seen pollution reach hazardous levels. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
PEKIN, CHINA - FEBRUARY 14: A Chinese man wearing a mask rides a cycle in heavy smog in the capital Pekin, China on February 14, 2014. Air pollution in many mainland cities remains serious after high index measures recorded due to the fireworks on the Lantern Festival celebrations. (Photo by Ali Ihsan Cam/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
This picture taken on February 23, 2014 shows girls wearing masks on haze-covered Tiananmen Square in Beijing. China's National Meteorological Centre issued a 'yellow' smog alert for much of the country's north, the fifth consecutive day of heavy pollution which has slashed visibility and seen pollution reach hazardous levels. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 24: (CHINA OUT) The turret of Palace Museum is shrouded in the haze on February 24, 2014, in Beijing, China. Altogether 1.43 million sq km of China's land territory, nearly 15 percent of the total, have been covered by persistent smog in recent days, according to news report. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 16: (CHINA OUT) A Chinese policeman stands guard on the Tiananmen Square which is shrouded with heavy smog on January 16, 2014 in Beijing, China. Beijing Municipal Government issued a yellow smog alert this morning. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 02: (CHINA OUT) Buildings are shrouded in smog on February 2, 2014 in Shanghai, China. China's national meteorological authority issues an alert as heavy fog will continue to shroud central and eastern China on Saturday, the second day of a seven-day break for the Chinese to celebrate the on-going Spring Festival. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 16: (CHINA OUT) People visit the Tiananmen Square which is shrouded with heavy smog on January 16, 2014 in Beijing, China. Beijing Municipal Government issued a yellow smog alert on Thursday morning. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
SHANGHAI, CHINA - DECEMBER 08: (CHINA OUT) People wearing masks walk along The Bund on December 8, 2013 in Shanghai, China. Heavy smog has been lingering in northern and eastern parts of China since last week, disturbing the traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)
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BEIJING (AP) - The smog is so bad even the statues wear masks. Or at least they do in pictures of a campus stunt that circulated online Tuesday as parts of northern China suffered a sixth straight day of severe pollution.

After being cooped inside because of the bad air, a psychology student at Peking University ventured out to place the masks on campus statues of Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes, Communist Party co-founder Li Dazhao and a sage practicing tai chi.

"I was feeling really low, so I came up with this idea," Jiang Chao said in a telephone interview.

Beijing remained cloaked in hazardous white pollution hiding much of its skyline Tuesday, despite the announced closures or production cuts at 147 of the city's industrial plants.

On Tuesday morning, readings of particulate matter known as PM2.5, a key measure of pollution, reached 444 micrograms per cubic meter in central Beijing, according to the National Meteorological Center. The World Health Organization considers 25 micrograms a safe level.

The meteorological center said moderate or severe pollution had persisted in northern China since Thursday, and that it was particularly serious in Beijing and its surrounding area. It forecast that the pollution would continue in parts of eastern, northern and central China until Wednesday evening, when precipitation and wind should help to disperse it.

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