Nearly five weeks ago, Beijing experienced its worst day of air quality on record: Levels of PM2.5 â€” small particulates that can cause lung, cardiovascular and respiratory disease â€” soared to more than 30 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization.
Air Quality in China â€” A Snapshot
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Since then, reporting on Chinaâ€™s â€śairpocalypseâ€ť has been accompanied by what seems like a monochromatic slideshow of the countryâ€™s iconic cities â€” Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin â€”all smothered in thick smog.
Indeed, Chinaâ€™s most populous and prosperous cities are among the epicenters of this latest pollution crisis. In Tianjin, for instance, levels of PM2.5 hit 577 on February 9, the eve of the Chinese New Year. In Beijing, sales of New Yearsâ€™ fireworks dropped 37% after the municipal government asked residents to limit their use.
But air quality in China is also a nationwide problem â€” a predicament that affects cities with far less name recognition than Beijing or a Shanghai. Last week, the Peopleâ€™s Daily reported that of the 74 key cities monitored by Chinaâ€™s Ministry of Environmental Protection, all 74 reported â€śexcessiveâ€ť PM2.5 concentrations on February 10, the first day of the Chinese New Year.
And as a glance at pollution figures from this morning shows, hazardous air conditions remain in cities throughout China, from Urumqi (with a PM2.5 concentration of 511 micrograms per cubic meter, or 20 times the recommended limit) to Guangzhou.
Chinaâ€™s Most Polluted Cities
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1. Xingtai, Hebei
2. Shijiazhuang, Hebei
3. Baoding, Hebei
4. Handan, Hebei
5. Langfang, Hebei
6. Hengshui, Hebei
7. Jinan, Shandong
8. Tangshan, Hebei
10. Zhengzhou, Henan
Chinaâ€™s Least Polluted Cities
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1. Haikuo, Hainan
2. Fuzhou, Fujian
3. Zhoushan, Zhejiang
4.X iamen, Fujian
5. Huizhou, Gunagdong
6. Zhaoqing, Guangdong
7. Shenzhen, Guangdong
8. Kunming, Yunnan
9. Lhasa, Tibet
10. Zhuhai, Guangdong