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China Pollution Survey Shows Progress in Battling Emissions

A man wears a protective mask as he stands in the central business district in Beijing, on Feb. 13.

A man wears a protective mask as he stands in the central business district in Beijing, on Feb. 13.

Photographer: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images 

China’s second national survey of pollution showed major air and water pollutants dropped significantly in the ten years since 2007, though the region surrounding Beijing still remains one of the most polluted in terms of air quality.

The census, which China began in 2017 and concluded in 2019, is based on information collected from more than 3.5 million sources of pollution. It showed that the amount of three major pollutants -- sulfur dioxides, chemical oxygen demand and nitrous oxides -- dropped by 72%, 46% and 34% respectively from ten years earlier, when the first census was done.

The findings showed major polluting industries also did less damage to the environment. The paper-making industry produced 84% less chemical oxygen demand than in 2007, sulfur dioxide from the steel industry dropped by 54% and nitrogen oxides from the cement producing industry dropped by 23%.