Tougher steps taken as smog grips region again - ENVIRONMENT - Humanrights

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Tougher steps taken as smog grips region again
November 15,2016   By:China Daily
Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei temporarily clear, but pollution is forecast to return through Friday
 
Nov. 15, 2016 -- The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region has entered its fifth round of heavy smog since the beginning of October, dragging down air quality and forcing governments to take tougher measures.
 
However, top-level inspection teams continue to report violations of pollution rules by companies and weak implementation by local authorities.
 
The smog cleared temporarily on Monday but was forecast to return and cover large areas of northern and central China on Tuesday night, lasting through Friday, the National Meteorological Center said on Monday.
 
Beijing's air quality rose to a healthier level on Monday, thanks to winds. Some northern cities in neighboring Hebei province also saw an easing of air pollution, the center said.
 
In some parts of the region, including Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, expressways were closed temporarily early on Monday due to thick fog, which reduced visibility to within 40 meters. The fog eventually lifted, but air pollution remained severe.
 
As of 3 pm, the air quality reading in Shijiazhuang had climbed to the most severe level in the six-tier alert system, according to data from the provincial air quality monitoring website.
 
Cities in the central and southern areas of the region, such as Baoding and Handan, experienced "hazardous" pollution levels, hitting the second-highest level, and the northern part of Henan, including Zhengzhou, saw air quality hit the most severe level, according to the website of the China National Environmental Monitoring Center.
 
Since the start of October, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region has been hit by several rounds of heavy smog, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said.
 
The region's 13 cities met the national air quality standard around 64 percent of days in October, a year-on-year drop of 6.8 percent. The concentration of PM2.5-particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter that is especially hazardous to human health-increased by 13.3 percent year-on-year, the ministry said.
 
Among the region's cities, Shijiazhuang has seen the biggest challenges.
 
Since Oct 1, it has had the worst air quality, with PM2.5 readings 60 percent higher than the regional average, the national monitoring center said on Sunday. In October, Shijiazhuang was the worst of the 74 major cities with air pollution.
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