Beijing Smog Worse Than Government Standard Most Days Last Year

Mar 25, 2014 5:39 am ET

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- Smog in Beijing was worse than government standards on most days last year, the environment ministry said.

Air quality in the capital was substandard 52 percent of days, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said today in a statement on its website. In Beijing, nearby Tianjin and the surrounding province of Hebei, pollution was worse than the standard 63 percent of days, averaging three times the limit. Seven of China’s 10 smoggiest cities were in Hebei.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said yesterday bad air quality, water shortages and desertification pose a “serious risk to the next stage of China’s development.” Premier Li Keqiang said this month the government will “declare war” on smog and tackle it with the same zeal that it brought to fighting poverty.

Regulators called on insurance companies to stop profiting from air pollution by selling smog-related insurance, such as travel cover that offers compensation to people whose holidays are ruined by dirty air, Caixin magazine reported today, citing unidentified company officials.

The average concentration of PM2.5, fine air particles that pose the greatest health risk, was 106 micrograms per cubic meter in 2013 in the region near Beijing, triple the national standard of 35 for cities and towns.

In Guangdong province’s Pearl River Delta, which neighbors Hong Kong, air quality met standards on 76 percent of days, according to the ministry. Shanghai met standards on 67 percent of days, with about 6 percent rated “heavily polluted” or worse, it said.

Haikou, Shenzhen, Fuzhou and Lhasa in Tibet were among 10 Chinese cities with relatively good air quality, according to the statement.