Panoramic view of Shanghai city over the advection fog at sunrise. Photo Credit: Danny Hu/Getty Images

Environment China15. May 2023

Less Air Pollution Led to Better Health for Citizens

For decades, China has put in place measures to clear out its smoggy skies, and consequently, Asia’s powerhouse is seeing steady improvements in its air quality for the benefit of over one billion citizens.

Thanks to technical solutions and ambitious policies, China has rapidly reduced its air pollution in an “impressive” way, according to Chi Li, an atmospheric scientist affiliated with Washington University Atmospheric Composition Analysis Group.

NASA satellites have been collecting atmospheric measurements for more than two decades. Data show that the concentration of fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less – referred to as PM2.5 – has steadily declined since 2013, reaching an average annual exposure of 33.3 micrograms per cubic meter in 2021, below the nation’s air-quality standard of 35. To get such a low level, authorities have upgraded coal-fired power plants. Indeed, since 2004, filters have been installed, allowing the removal of sulfur dioxide – a molecule which, when reacting with other compounds, forms PM2.5 particles – from emissions. In 2013, China unveiled its air pollution prevention and control action plan, and the measures imposed since then account for 81% of the reductions in PM2.5 emissions between 2013 and 2017. China has fixed two goals. First, to eliminate heavy-pollution days by 2025, and second, to become carbon neutral by 2060.


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