May 21, 2018 / 11:46 AM / a year ago

Beijing sees April pollution levels rise as industry curbs end

Buildings are seen amid smog on a polluted day where a blue alert is issued, in Beijing, China April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - Pollution levels in China’s capital Beijing rose by 20.8 percent year-on-year in April as industries, including steel, ramped up output following the lifting of winter curbs, according to official data released on Monday.

The average concentration across the city of small, breathable particles known as PM 2.5 was 64 micrograms per cubic meter last month, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said on Monday.

The figure is above the average of 58 micrograms per cubic meter for 2017, while in January to April 2018, PM 2.5 levels in Beijing averaged at 59 micrograms per cubic meter, down 22.4 percent on the year, the bureau said.

Beijing, which was the top performer among 28 cities in northern China during October-February in terms of lowering PM2.5 levels, is targeting a reduction in its annual average for 2018 as part of the country’s ongoing war on smog.

The bureau blamed unfavorable weather conditions and high humidity levels for the April increase, noting that more pollutants were emitted as steel plants, many of which are in Hebei province around Beijing, and other industries raised output at speed after restrictions were lifted in mid-March.

China’s steel production reached its highest level in at least four years in April at 76.7 million tonnes, according to official data released last week.

Reporting by Tom Daly and Muyu Xu, editing by Louise Heavens

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