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Cities falling short of air standards

2014-08-06 08:53 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

Hebei most polluted area despite improvements

Over 90 percent of 161 monitored Chinese cities are failing to meet new air quality standards, with the air quality in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region markedly improving, according to the report on national environmental quality that was issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) on Tuesday.

Only nine cities, including Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Haikou, Sanya and Lhasa, met the standards while 152 cities did not, the report said.

According to the report, the air quality in 74 cities improved in the first half of the year, with more than 60 percent of the days reaching the government's air quality standards, representing an improvement of 1.6 percentage points year-on-year.

The levels of pollutants like PM2.5, PM10, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide in the air fell, it added.

The report was based on new national standards by the MEP in 2012. Under the new standards, the Air Quality Index, which measures PM2.5 concentrations, should be lower than 100.

The air quality in the smog-hit Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region also improved. Thirteen cities in the region saw an increase of 3.2 percentage points in terms of days meeting the national standard.

One fifth of the days in the region are still witnessing serious air pollution, 12.6 percentage points higher than those 74 cities, making the region the most heavily polluted despite the improvements.

The 10 most heavily polluted cities were Xingtai, Shijiazhuang, Baoding, Tangshan, Handan, Hengshui, Jinan, Langfang, Xi'an and Tianjin, nine of which are located near Beijing.

The Chinese government has been increasing funds to tackle air pollution.

The Ministry of Finance announced on May 16 that it would invest 10 billion yuan ($1.62 billion) to cut and prevent air pollution in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, with the focus on Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and their surrounding areas, the Beijing-based Securities Daily reported.

Beijing government will invest about 50 billion yuan to control air pollution in the next five years, promoting 117 programs, the People's Daily reported on July 8.

Beijing government, together with Tianjin and Hebei Province, will launch a 100-million-yuan research project next year using advanced technology to combat air pollution, Beijing-based newspaper The Mirror reported on July 8.

Beijing will also ban the use or sale of coal in six major districts and other regions by the end of 2020 to reduce air pollution, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said on Monday.

Clean energy like electricity and natural gas will substitute for coal in heating, cooking and other activities, the bureau said.

Other highly polluting fuels, such as fuel oil, petroleum coke, combustible waste and some biomass fuel will also be banned, local authorities said.

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