With improved air quality in Beijing, people near Tuanjiehu Park are choosing to spend time with children outdoors. / CGTN Photo
After five years fighting air pollution, people in Beijing are breathing noticeably cleaner air.
According to local weather authorities, the Chinese capital has been successful in executing its 2013 plan, reducing concentrations of PM2.5 – fine particulate matter in the air – to less than 60 micrograms per cubic meter, by limiting it to 58 micrograms.
Official data shows the city recorded only 23 heavy pollution days in 2017, compared to 58 days back in 2013. And over two-thirds of the whole year were good air days.
The improvement in air quality has also impacted the sales of smog-related products, such as face masks and air purifiers.
Inside the shopping centers of Beijing's commercial hotspots, most of the facial masks remain on the shelves untouched. It's pretty much the same for other household products, like air purifiers.
Having worked at a store selling air purifiers for three years, Mr. Wang Wanli told CGTN that he used to sell 20 to 30 air purifiers each day during peak smoggy weather. But now, the number is less than ten for a whole week.
Beijing saw a heavy burst of smog in 2013. People spent over half the year living under a hazy spell. On Jan. 12 of that year, the PM2.5 reading once surpassed 900 micrograms per cubic meter in downtown areas. The spell forced Beijing to issue its first ever orange alert for heavy smog.
Authorities listed several factors that have contributed to the improvement in the city's air quality, including efforts to demolish coal-fired boilers and the reduction of high-emission vehicles. They also attribute the improvements to drier and windier weather over the past year.
Beijing authorities have vowed to limit 2.5PM particle emissions to 35 micrograms per cubic meter by 2030 which is still higher than the maximum of 10 micrograms recommended by the World Health Organization.
Li Xiang, the director responsible for air quality control at Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said vehicle emissions take up an increasing percentage of the total pollutants in Beijing. As a next step, they will intensify supervision of high-emission vehicles, among others, to keep the capital's skies blue.