Only eight Chinese cities met the country’s air quality standards in 2014, according to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, although this was an improvement on 2013 when just three made the grade.
Haikou in the island province of Hainan – sometimes called China’s Bali – had the best air quality of the 74 cities monitored by the ministry.
The worst cities were in the industrial province of Hebei, near the capital Beijing, where the average reading of PM2.5 – tiny particles that can embed themselves deep in the lungs – were 93 micrograms per cubic meter – almost triple the country’s national standard of 35.
The World Health Organization’s guideline for maximum healthy exposure is 25.
Baoding, China’s most polluted city, is home to 11 million people and is perhaps best known for its donkey meat burgers.
The official China Daily newspaper said the the government had set targets to slash coal consumption and close polluting industrial facilities in Hebei, but the province had struggled to find alternative sources of growth.