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    A group of people wearing masks visit Tiananmen Square in Beijing on December 21, 2016

    Air Pollution Level in China's Major Cities Drops by 31% Since 2013

    © AFP 2019 / WANG ZHAO
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    In 74 main cities of China the average concentration of PM2.5 harmful particles for the year amounted to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, which is 30.6 percent less compared with the figures of 2013, according to Chinese Environmental Protection Minister Chen Jining.

    BEIJING (Sputnik) — The average concentration of air-polluting PM2.5 particles in the largest cities of China has decreased by 30.6 percent since 2013, Chinese Environmental Protection Minister Chen Jining said Thursday.

    "In addition, there is such statistics: in 2016, in 74 main cities of China the average concentration of PM2.5 harmful particles for the year amounted to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, which is 30.6 percent less compared with the figures of 2013," Chen said at a press conference.

    According to the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the safe concentration of PM2.5 is 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

    Chen stressed that the number of days with severe pollution registered had also reduced.

    Earlier this month, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the government would undertake a number of measures to combat air pollution in 2017 and would "make skies blue again" cutting the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide by 3 percent and lowering the density of PM2.5. The measures would include reducing coal use and cars emissions, upgrading coal-fired power plants, encouraging the use of clean-energy vehicles and punishing government officials who ignore environmental crimes or air pollution in their designated areas.

    Since February 15, a one-month environmental inspection of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region has been taking place, with over 260 inspectors having already examined more than 6,000 government departments and companies. According to Chen, they have found 2,000 pollution-related issues.

    In 2016 the environmental inspectors investigated 33,000 cases of alleged environment-related wrongdoing detaining 720 people and imposing fines totaling 440 million yuans (about $64 million).

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