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China says 28 northern cities met late 2017 anti-smog targets

From Reuters - January 9, 2018

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - All 28 Chinese cities in a demanding winter anti-smog campaign met their air quality targets from October to December, but weather conditions could pose challenges in early 2018, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

The 28 northern cities were ordered to cut concentrations of small, breathable particles known as PM2.5 by 10-25 percent during October 2017-March 2018. They have been curbing industrial output, thinning traffic and cracking down on coal use in a bid to limit smog build-ups.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said that all the cities exceeded their targets in the final three months of 2017, with average concentrations across the region hitting 71 micrograms per cubic meter, down 34.3 percent from a year earlier.

But the ministry, citing meteorologists, said unfavorable weather, including relatively warm temperatures, is expected to make smog dispersal more difficult in January and February.

It said Shijiazhuang, one of Chinas most polluted cities and the capital of heavily industrial Hebei province, saw the biggest improvement in late 2017, with PM2.5 falling 54.8 percent on an annual basis for October-December, more than double its 25 percent target.

Average PM2.5 concentrations in Shijiazhuang remained at 85 micrograms, higher than Chinas 35 microgram standard as well as the 10 micrograms recommended by the World Health Organization.

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