Just three of 74 major mainland cities met national air quality standards last year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said, citing the results of an annual survey.
The clean three are Haikou in Hainan, Lhasa in Tibet and Zhoushan in Zhejiang. Hebei, by contrast, had seven of the country’s 10 most polluted cities.
Smog-plagued Beijing was the worst offender with air pollution on more than half of the days last year.
The capital’s annual average level of PM2.5 — particularly hazardous tiny pollutants — was 89 micrograms per cubic meter, 156 percent more than the allowable limit.
Other built-up regions – city clusters in the Yangtze and Pearl River deltas – also registered chronic smog.
The results come as the nation plans for the release of a national water pollution plan later this year. Government statistics already show that half of China’s rivers are contaminated, and three-fifths of groundwater is unsuitable for drinking.
Also, nearly 20 percent of the mainland’s farmland is polluted.
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