Buildings are seen shrouded in heavy haze at Qingdao development zone, Shandong province, February 25, 2014. (REUTERS/Stringer)
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China's biggest online face-mask sellers were running out of stock Wednesday as consumers rushed to protect themselves from smog that has shrouded large swathes of northern China for a week.The situation was improving, however, with the reading for a location in the center of the capital at 100 by Wednesday evening.An alternative measure by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said PM 2.5 levels were at 542 in the city in the afternoon but had fallen to 180 in the evening. The capital was on its sixth day of an "orange" smog alert – the second-highest on the scale – with the air tasting gritty and visibility down to a few hundred meters.One school defied education authorities by keeping its junior high department closed Wednesday.
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