China says national average smog levels fell 9.1% in 2021


A man wearing a face mask walks on the street during a day with polluted air, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beijing, China February 13, 2021. REUTERS /Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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SHANGHAI, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Air pollution in 339 Chinese cities improved in 2021, with average concentrations of small, dangerous airborne particles called PM2.5 down 9.1% compared to the previous year at 30 micrograms per cubic meter, according to official data on Monday.

China’s official “provisional” air quality standard is 35 micrograms, although the World Health Organization recommends levels of just five micrograms.

The smog-prone northern Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region had PM2.5 concentrations of 43 micrograms for 2021, down 5.7% from a year earlier.

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Tackling heavy pollution in the region has been a top priority for the state, especially ahead of the Winter Olympics, which begin this week in Beijing and Zhangjiakou in Hebei. Read more

The Fenwei Plain, another heavy industrial region in northern China, saw its readings drop 0.4% on the year to 42 micrograms. Average PM2.5 in the Yangtze River Delta manufacturing hub, which includes Shanghai, was 31 micrograms, down 11.4 percent.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment said average concentrations of all major pollutants – including ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide – have fallen in the 339 cities monitored last year.

China has made concerted efforts to reduce coal consumption for heating while pushing industries to improve efficiency and install cleaner technologies.

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Reporting by David Stanway; Edition by Lincoln Feast.

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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