According to a new report by Greenpeace, 366 cities in China severely lack clean air. The report released Wednesday ranked these cities in terms of air quality.
“None of these 366 cities meet the World Health Organization’s air quality standard,” said Dong Liansai, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace. “That is to say 100 percent of Chinese cities studied fail to meet the WHO’s standard.”
The report also indicated that China’s national average concentration level of PM2.5, a particulate matter that’s linked to lung and heart illnesses, is dramatically high.
Its PM2.5 level stands at 50.2 parts per cubic meter, which is well above the World Health Organization’s preferred annual average of less than 10 micrograms.
PM2.5 is released during the burning of coal. It also makes its way into the air from motor vehicle exhaust.
Researchers at Germany’s Max Planck institute estimate that smog leads to 1.4 million premature deaths in China each year. The non-profit group Berkeley Earth in California put the figure at 1.6 million.
Greenpeace says “Air quality across China is still a major health hazard,” despite some progress.
Greenpeace reports that air quality saw significant improvements last year in Beijing, the Yangtze River Delta communities and the Pearl River Delta area. Despite dangerous levels, national PM2.5 rates also dropped by 10.3 percent from 2014.
China’s economic policy of growth-at-all-costs has been linked to major air, water and soil pollution.
In the face of growing criticism, Beijing has been taking a stronger stance against pollution recently. The government has been more transparent on environmental conditions and it’s offering financial incentives for provinces that can meet air-quality goals.
The WHO reports that developing nations can cut air-pollution related deaths by 15 percent if they help scale back PM2.5 levels to its recommended guideline..