Air quality in China’s northern regions, including the capital city Beijing, worsened in October despite overall improvements over the course of the year, according to the nation’s environment ministry.
Concentrations of small breathable particles known as PM2.5, a key smog indicator, fell 12.5 percent to an average of 42 micrograms per cubic meter from January to October.
But in October alone, smog concentrations in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, a front line in China’s war on pollution, were worse than the same period last year, Reuters cited the ministry as saying.
Six of the worst performing cities over the first 10 months were located in the industrial province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing.
Smog normally worsens in winter as China’s largely coal-fired urban heating systems are activated in northern regions.
The environment ministry has warned that the situation could be more challenging this year as a result of unfavorable weather conditions.
During several recent smog build-ups, the ministry dispatched inspection teams to establish whether emergency smog alert systems in Beijing and Hebei were being implemented correctly.
The teams found that local governments were not cracking down hard enough on firms that broke rules.
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