CHINA> Regional
Beijing air cleanest in 9 years
By Lan Tian (
Updated: 2009-07-02 20:27

Beijing's air quality in the first six months of this year has been the best in nine years, with 146 days of blue skies, an environmental official said.

During the same period last year, Beijing experienced just 123 days of clear skies, before which the capital saw no more than 99 days of blue skies since 2000, Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the Beijing municipal environmental protection bureau, said at a press briefing on Thursday.

The city follows a five-grade classification of air quality based on the air pollution index (API), the level of airborne pollutants involving sulfur dioxide, oxynitride and inhalable particulate.

API below 50 is excellent, from 51 to 100 is fairly good; 101 to 200 is slightly polluted; 201 to 300 is poor; and more than 301 is hazardous, according to the bureau.

Du said that the city saw 25 days of blue skies in June, which was the best during the same months since 2000.

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The inhalable particulate level has also touched its lowest level since 2000, he said.

Experts said the improving air quality is the result of the city government’s decade-long efforts to control air pollution and the environmental protective measures taken during last year’s Beijing Olympic Games.

“The emission of pollutants has decreased dramatically after years of efforts to transform energy-intensive industries and shutting down highly polluting factories,” said Wang Dawei, assistant chief engineer of the air quality control division of the bureau.

Moreover, citizens’ lifestyle has been more environment-friendly since the Beijing Games, he said.

Although the city has registered about 200,000 new vehicles so far this year, the level of emissions has not increased as 55,000 heavy polluting vehicles were removed from the streets, he said.