Air Pollution Shifting to Central and Western Regions
Air quality in China. Image: greenpeace.org
The air quality improved in eastern China but worsened in central and western regions in the first quarter, a report given by NGO Greenpeace East Asia said.
An analysis of concentrations of tiny airborne pollutants known as PM2.5 reflected that the air quality in China's key population centers along the eastern seaboard were getting better with Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area seeing a 23% improvement, according to Greenpeace.
However, it said air pollution in the central and western areas was poised to worsen as investment in coal-fired power plants in those areas increases, "specifically because their air pollution and emissions regulations are more lax".
Chinese government has begun to address the country's environmental problems, focusing much effort on air pollution in three major population centers in the east - the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin area, the Yangtze River delta, and the Pearl River delta.
2016 first quarter PM2.5 average concentration ranking by province. Image: greenpeace.org
Cities in central and western parts of the country dominated the list of urban areas with the worst air, with the top five located in the far western region of Xinjiang, according to the Greenpeace report.
The finding showed that 91 out of 355 Chinese cities saw their average levels of PM2.5 increase in the year’s first quarter compared to last year. Three-quarters of those cities were located in China’s central and western provinces and experienced an average rise of more than 20% in their PM2.5 levels, with Xinjiang and Henan being China’s top two polluted provinces.
Experts say the finding may reflect a trend in polluting factories moving west to avoid more stringent green policies being introduced in the east. It may also reflect a greater use of heating during last year’s harsh winter.