BEIJING, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Finally, the smog that has hovered over Beijing for a week will come to an end.
The Beijing weather forecast bureau said Saturday that snow followed by blasts of cold wind will clean up the air this weekend.
Snow fell in many parts of Beijing Saturday morning and is expected to last into the night, bringing a bit of relief from the smog that has persisted since the last day of 2016.
Meteorologist Guo Jianxing, however, warned the public not to get too close to the snow.
"Because the snow absorbs pollutants, it is dirty." Guo said. "People should carry umbrellas if they walk outside and quickly brush off any snow that falls on their skin."
According to the city's air quality surveillance center, with the exception of northwestern Beijing, the capital remained "seriously polluted" as of 1 p.m. Saturday. The density of PM 2.5 -- tiny pollutant -- was 178 micrograms per cubic meter.
The weather bureau said gusts of cold wind, a major force to dispel the smog, will start to arrive Sunday from the north.
It said Beijing's heavy air pollution will be eased and finally cleared from north to south. At worst, only very light smog will linger in a small portion of the city, it added.
The smog has become north China's biggest environmental issue in recent years, particularly in winter, when coal-fired heating boilers rev up and the wind weakens. Despite drops in pollution indicators, smog still frequently occurs.
Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection, said at a press conference on Friday that an economic structure burdened by heavy industry, an energy mix reliant on fossil fuels, and environmentally unfriendly lifestyles are the root causes of pollution and require a long time to correct.