Only eight out of China’s 74 major cities managed to meet the country’s air quality standards in 2014, according to their own Ministry of Environmental Protection. Wondering is that should be something to gloat about, considering that only three of these cities had managed to make the grade in 2013? The worst performing city was Baoding, an industrial center in Hebei province while Haikou in the island province of Hainan had the best air quality.

Ratings were based on samples of major pollutants, including PM2.5, PM10, carbon monoxide, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide. The World Health Organization’s guideline for maximum healthy exposure is 25.

Of the 10 cities with the worst air quality, eight were in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area. Baoding, in Hebei province – the southern neighbor of the capital – which has a population of nearly 11 million and is ‘famous’ for its donkey meat burgers topped the list, highlighting the lingering challenges faced by governments in the trilateral zone.

The average concentration of PM2.5 in the trilateral zone was 93 micrograms per cubic meter last year, 160 per cent above the national average, said the report released by the ministry.

Inspite of being labeled as the worst performer on this front, the trilateral region has made some achievements, said Gong Zhengyu of the China National Environmental Monitoring Center under the ministry. “We have witnessed more days of clean air in more cities, and greater reductions in the concentration of PM 2.5, the major airborne pollutant,” he said.
“Also, the concentration of PM2.5 in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region was reduced from 106 micrograms in 2013 to last year’s 93 micrograms, which is huge progress,” Gong said.

In 2013, only three cities – Haikou, in Hainan province; Lhasa, in the Tibet autonomous region; and Zhoushan, in Zhejiang province – met national standards for air quality.

China which is the biggest producer of greenhouse gases in the world at present has recently started publishing updates on PM2.5 levels, the tiny particles that can embed themselves in the lungs and cause serious health problems. China hopes to cut down its coal usage to 25percent of the existing levels by 2022 and cut down on carbon emissions significantly by 2030.

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