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Annual PM2.5 air pollution levels in Beijing 2009-2019

According to the monitoring data from the Embassy of the United States, there was on average 42.6 micrograms of PM2.5 particles per cubic meter to be found in the air in Beijing during 2019. The air quality has improved considerably over recent years.

Reasons for air pollution in Beijing

China’s capital city Beijing is one of the most populous cities in China with over 20 million inhabitants. Over the past 20 years, Beijing’s GDP has increased tenfold. With the significant growth of vehicles and energy consumption in the country, Beijing’s air quality is under great pressure from the economic development. In the past, the city had a high level of coal consumption. Especially in winter, in which coal consumption increased due to heating, the air quality could get extremely bad on the days without wind. In spring, the wind from the north would bring sand from Mongolian deserts, resulting in severe sandstorms in Beijing. The bad air quality also affected the air visibility and threatened people’s health. On days with very bad air quality, people wearing masks for protection can be seen on the streets in the city.

Methods to improve air quality in Beijing

Over the past years, the government has implemented various methods to improve the air quality in Northern China. Sandstorms, which were quite common 15 years ago, are now rarely seen in Beijing’s spring thanks to afforestation projects on China’s northern borders. The license-plate lottery system was introduced in Beijing to restrict the growth of private vehicles. Large trucks were not allowed to enter certain areas in Beijing. Above all, the coal consumption in Beijing has been restricted by shutting down industrial sites and improving heating systems. Beijing’s efforts to improve air quality has also been highly praised by the UN as a successful model for other cities. However, there is also criticism pointing out that the improvement of Beijing’s air quality is based on the sacrifice of surrounding provinces (including Hebei), as many factories were moved from Beijing to other regions. Besides air pollution, there are other environmental problems like water pollution that China is facing. The industrial transformation is the key to China’s environmental improvement.

Average annual PM2.5 air pollution levels in Beijing, China between 2009 and 2019

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Release date

July 2020



Survey time period

2009 to 2019

Supplementary notes

Average calculated by Statista, based on hourly data provided by the US Department of State. Invalid or missing measuring data were excluded from calculation.

Measures for PM2.5 concentration are taken in front of the U.S. embassy building in Beijing. According to the source, data has not been fully validated.

The source does not provide a release date. The date given is the date of data access.

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