China’s average national smog levels dip by 9.1% in 2021

According to government data released on Monday, air pollution in 339 Chinese cities improved in 2021, with average concentrations of microscopic, dangerous airborne particles known as PM2.5 decreasing by 9.1 percent from a year earlier to 30 micrograms per cubic metre, down from a year earlier.

Despite the fact that the World Health Organization recommends air quality levels of only five micrograms, China‘s official “interim” air quality standard is 35 micrograms.

The PM2.5 readings in the smog-prone northern region of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei were 43 micrograms in 2021, a 5.7 percent decrease from the previous year.

A key state focus has been addressing the severe pollution in the region, particularly as the Winter Olympics, which will begin this week in Beijing and Hebei’s Zhangjiakou, get under way this week.

Similarly, measurements on the Fenwei Plain, another heavily industrialised region in northern China, decreased by 0.4 percent year on year to 42 micrograms. The average PM2.5 concentration in the Yangtze River delta manufacturing hub, which includes Shanghai, was 31 micrograms, representing a 11.4 percent decrease from the previous year.

According to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, average concentrations of all key pollutants – including ground-level ozone, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide – decreased in the 339 cities that were studied in the previous year, on average.

While driving businesses to improve efficiencies and install cleaner technologies, China has been making a deliberate effort to reduce its reliance on coal for heating.

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