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MEP releases the air quality status of key regions and 74 cities between January and February and in February

Today, MEP released the air quality status of domestic cities and cities seated in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, Yangtze River delta, Pearl River delta, as well as municipalities directly under the Central Government, provincial capital cities, and cities separately listed in State plans between January and February and in February.

According to Liu Zhiquan, Director General of the Ministry’s Department of Environmental Monitoring, the percentage of the days recorded with clean or fairly clean air had averaged out at 64.6 percent among the 338 cities at or above the prefectural level between January and February, down 4.8 percentage points year on year. The mean PM2.5 reading registered 71 μg/m3, up 12.7 percent. The data for PM10 was 108 μg/m3, up 8.0 percent. The percentage of the days recorded with clean or fairly clean air averaged out at 69.8 percent in February, down 2.6 percentage points year on year. The mean PM2.5 reading registered 62 μg/m3, up 6.9 percent. The data for PM10 was 98 μg/m3, levelling off with last February.

Measured by the urban AQI readings, the top 10 cities recorded with fairly poor air quality (ranking from the 74th to the 65th) were Shijiazhuang, Xingtai, Handan, Baoding, Urumqi, Xi’an, Taiyuan, Hengshui, Zhengzhou, and Tangshan in the first two months of the year, and Shijiazhuang, Baoding, Urumqi, Xingtai, Handan, Xi’an, Tangshan, Taiyuan, Zhengzhou and Hengshui in February.

The top 10 cities recorded with fairly good air quality (ranking from the 1st to the 10th) were Haikou, Zhoushan, Lhasa, Fuzhou, Shenzhen, Huizhou, Lishui, Kunming, Xiamen and Taizhou between January and February, and Haikou, Lhasa, Shenzhen, Huizhou, Fuzhou, Zhuhai, Zhoushan, Xiamen, Lishui and Kunming in February.

The percentage of the days recorded with clean or fairly clean air averaged out at 44.7 percent among the 13 cities located in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area between January and February, down 19.0 percentage points from the same period last year. The mean PM2.5 reading posted 111 μg/m3, up 48.0 percent. The data for PM10 was 166 μg/m3, up 45.6 percent. The percentage of the days recorded with clean or fairly clean air averaged out at 54.1 percent in February, down 18.0 percentage points from the same period last year. The mean PM2.5 reading posted 92 μg/m3, up 55.9 percent. The data for PM10 was 140 μg/m3, up 50.5 percent.

The percentage of the days with records of clean air and fairly clean air registered 54.2 percent in Beijing between January and February, down 22.5 percentage points compared with the same period last year. The mean PM2.5 reading was 95 μg/m3, up 69.6 per cent. The data for PM10 was 109 μg/m3, up 60.3 percent. The percentage of the days with records of clean air and fairly clean air registered 57.1 percent in Beijing in February, down 25.7 percentage points compared with the same period last year. The mean PM2.5 reading was 71 μg/m3, up 61.4 percent.

The percentage of the days recorded with clean or fairly clean air averaged out at 71.0 percent among the 25 cities located in Yangtze River delta in the first two months, up 7.6 percentage points year on year. The mean PM2.5 reading posted 61 μg/m3, down 10.3 percent. The data for PM10 was 86 μg/m3, down 15.7 percent. The percentage of the days recorded with clean or fairly clean air averaged out at 67.6 percent in February, down 1.7 percentage points year on year. The mean PM2.5 reading posted 63 μg/m3, leveling off with last February. The data for PM10 was 87 μg/m3, down 11.2 percent.

The percentage of the days recorded with clean or fairly clean air averaged out at 87.4 percent among the 9 cities located in Pearl River delta between January and February, down 10.9 percentage points year on year. The mean PM2.5 reading posted 46 μg/m3, up 43.8 percent. The data for PM10 was 62 μg/m3, up 31.9 percent. The percentage of the days recorded with clean or fairly clean air averaged out at 90.9 percent in February, down 8.3 percentage points year on year. The mean PM2.5 reading posted 41 μg/m3, up 28.1 percent. The data for PM10 was 55 μg/m3, up 17.0 percent.

According to Chai Fahe, a research fellow with Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, since the year 2013, the nationwide ambient air quality has been on the improvement in general, however, the pollution bounced back in some areas and cities between January and February compared with the same period last year, which can be attributed to the following main causes. First, the meteorological conditions have been adverse to pollution diffusion, which has pushed up the PM2.5 reading. Since last autumn and winter, the cold front has been inactive and less intense, the wind speed has been slow, and the air temperature has been disproportionately high in the northern China, which easily leads to windless weather, high moisture and temperature inversion-the major meteorological factors that have significantly pushed up the PM2.5 reading. Taking the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area as an example, the occurrence of breeze (wind speed<2 m/s) had gone up 16.1 percentage points in this area, that of high moisture (RH>60%) had escalated 11.5 percentage points, and the average air temperature had surged 2.3 in the first two months, compared with the same period last year. The lingering adverse meteorological conditions had significantly pushed up the PM2.5 reading in this area, a phenomenon also observed in the Pearl River delta. Second, the economic activities have been more active, and there has been growing pressure on air quality improvement. Since the second half of last year, with gradual rebounding industrial production and market demands in China, the thermal power generation and the outputs of main industrial products such as iron and steel, coke, and plate glass have remarkably escalated. Statistics show that the electricity bill of industry had surged 6.9 percent, the value-added of scaled industries had grown 6.3 percent, and the population of commercial vehicles had maintained growth at a high rate, with the outputs and the sales up 19.4 percent and 28.3 percent respectively. The total value of social logistics goods had gone up 6.9 percent, calculated by comparable prices. The freight volume had been up 8.2 percent, at a rate of growth up 7.5 percent from last year. The satellite data also indicate that the NO2 column concentration had elevated significantly in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and adjacent area, Yangtze River delta and Pearl River delta between January and February, a sign that shows high industrial emission intensity which put great pressure on air quality improvement.

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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