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Majority of China's cities will fail to meet new air quality standards

China's Vice-Minister of Environmental Protection said that two-thirds of the country has poor air quality.

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An elderly woman wears a mask as protection against air pollution in Beijing on Nov. 22, 2011. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

A top Chinese environment official warned today that the majority of China's cities have poor air quality and would fail to meet new pollution standards. 

China's air quality has worsened in recent years, leading to public pressure for tougher environment regulations, BBC News reported.

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On Wednesday, China's Cabinet issued new limits on pollutants that would go into effect in 2016, the Associated Press reported. But Vice Minister of Environmental Protection Wu Xiaoqing said today that two-thirds of Chinese cities would fail to meet the new standards. "Our task of air pollution control is huge," Wu told the AP. However, the new standards in China would still be twice as lenient as the United States' Environmental Protection Agency standards, the AP said.

Nonetheless, Greenpeace China told the Xinhua-Global Times that they were happy with the changes, although the environmental group wished the Cabinet had paid more attention to coal. 

Wu told the BBC that the government plans to enforce the new standards by setting up 1,500 air monitoring stations around the country.

In January, smog in Beijing reached levels so dangerous that the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention urged people to stay home, China Daily reported.

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/120302/most-chinas-cities-will-fail-meet-new-air-quality-standards