BEIJING (dpa) – Over 90 per cent of cities in China that report air quality data exceeded the government’s pollution limit last year, according to research released Thursday.
The average annual concentration of PM2.5 particles in 190 cities in 2014 was 60.8 microgrammes per cubic metre. Only 18 cities came under the national limit of 35 microgrammes per cubic metre, according to a report released Thursday by environmental campaign group Greenpeace and the China Air Quality Index monitoring organisation.
Of the 10 cities with the worst air pollution, seven of them were in Hebei province, according to the report, which was based on government data collected hourly and throughout the year.
PM2.5 concentration – referring to particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres – pose serious health hazards because they can embed deep in the lungs.
Many cities in China are notorious for their winter smog, which is caused by a combination of air pollution and weather conditions.
The US embassy in Beijing recorded a PM2.5 peak of 900 microgrammes in January 2013. The prolonged bout of high pollution that year prompted China to pursue a national plan on anti-pollution measures.
Li Yan, Head of Climate and Energy at Greenpeace East Asia, said local governments can take immediate steps to protect people on particularly smoggy days, such as restrictions on factory production and car use, and a better warning system to advise people to stay inside.