Meteorologists blame pollution on stagnant air
People in parts of northern and eastern China had to endure more smoggy days than usual in September, official data released on Sunday show.
Statistics from the China Meteorological Administration say that Beijing had 14 smoggy days from Sept 1 to 28, about 10 more than the average in the same period for the past 20 years.
Jiangsu, Shandong, Henan, Shanxi and Hebei provinces plus Tianjin had five to 10 more smoggy days than the same period in previous years, Chen Zhenlin, a meteorological administration spokesman, said at a media briefing on Sunday.
Kang Zhiming, a senior engineer at the National Meteorological Information Center, attributed the rising number of smoggy days to a reduction in the movement of cold air.
The National Meteorological Center issued a new smog alert on Sunday for Beijing and neighboring Tianjin and Hebei due to adverse weather conditions in the region.
As of 8 am, 24 of 35 monitoring spots in the capital indicated heavy air pollution, at the highest level of six, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center.
Levels of PM2.5, airborne particles at or below 2.5 microns in diameter, exceeded 200 micrograms per cubic meter, the center said.
Kang said a cold front will affect the region beginning Monday night, and may help clear the sky in the capital on Tuesday afternoon, but the haze could return in the coming weekend.
More dirty-air days have triggered growing public discontent and received attention from the country's top leaders. A national action plan to combat airborne pollution was released on Sept 12.
The plan has set various targets in air pollution control. For example, it requires all 338 prefecture-level cities to start monitoring six airborne pollutants, including PM2.5, and release the readings by the end of 2015.
By Sunday, 114 cities among the 338 have met the requirement, and 172 newly built or renovated monitoring stations in 40 cities will start reporting real-time pollutant monitoring figures on Tuesday, the Ministry of Environmental Protection announced on Sunday.
By the end of this year, another 76 cities should have met the requirement of monitoring and releasing figures of six airborne pollutants, according to the ministry.
However, whether the targets can be met remains unknown.
An anonymous source with the Ministry of Environmental Protection said that by mid-July, 26 of the 76 cities had not started the bidding process for the monitoring appliances.
A major reason for the delay is a lack of funding, according to the source quoted by China Environmental News, a newspaper run by the ministry.