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New report shows that the vast majority of Chinese cities have alarming levels of air pollution.

According to a report released by Greenpeace East Asia, more than 90 per cent of 360 Chinese cities haven’t met the national air quality standard in the first three months of 2015. The research has been conducted measuring the concentration of PM 2.5 – a fine particulate matter considered to be particularly dangerous due to the risks it can pose on human health – in the air, and the results have been disastrous: out of 360 cities, only 32 met the national air quality standard, while 141 had PM 2.5 levels that were more than twice the standard itself.

The average concentration of PM 2.5 in the cities’ air was 66 micrograms per cubic meter, while the national standard is of 35 micrograms per cubic meter, and the figure is even direr if compared to the exposure limit recommended by the World Health Organization, which is of 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period.

The report also shows that – despite a recent drop in the increase of coal use – China still has some of the most polluted cities in the world, together with urban centres in India and Iran. The most polluted provinces in China are Henan, Hubei and Hebei, which all have or are surrounded by coal-burning heavy industrial factories.

However, the Greenpeace East Asia researcher Zhang Kai highlighted that small but significant progress has been made, as the policies announced in September 2013 by the central government to reduce coal use in three highly populated centres have actually led to substantial drops in PM 2.5 levels (for example, a nearly 13 per cent drop in PM 2.5 concentration has been registered in Beijing over a one-year period). Nevertheless, even in these centres the level of air pollution is still dreadfully high.

Moreover, doubts have been recently cast on the government’s air-monitoring methodology, which has been accused of not taking into account some significant variables when measuring PM 2.5 levels, such as wind patterns and other weather phenomena; in fact, windy months can give the false impression that PM 2.5 concentration has dropped.


The gLAWcal Team

POREEN project

Thursday, 23 April 2015

(Source: New York Times International)