Beijing, Jan 11 (IANS) Greenpeace on Thursday said the recent improvement in air quality in northern China, where Beijing is located, has come at the detriment of other areas where industry has moved and where pollution increased in 2017.

"NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) levels, an indicator of fossil-fuel burning, fell an average of 10 per cent in Beijing, Tianjin and 26 surrounding cities but increased by approximately six percent in the rest of the country in the fourth quarter," Efe news reported quoting a Greenpeace statement.

"This reflects the shift of industrial output outside the 28 cities after the winter action plan went into effect," the statement said.

The concentration of PM2.5 particles in the air, the most toxic and dangerous to health as they can enter the lungs directly, "fell just 4.5 per cent nationwide in 2017, the lowest rate since the start of China's 'war on pollution'," Greenpeace said.

In the first three quarters of 2017, the volume of PM2.5 particles increased by six per cent in Beijing, Tianjin and 25 other cities.

In response to this rise, Beijing in October 2017 implemented a six-month plan that managed to reduce PM2.5 particle levels by 33.1 percent in these areas in the last quarter of the same year as compared to the same period in 2016.

The problem, according to Greenpeace, is that "outside the scope of the regional action plan, air pollution in some provinces intensified in 2017".

In addition, the levels of ozone pollution, the cause of "lung damage, symptoms in asthma patients, and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, are on the rise" with an increase of 10 per cent year-on-year in the summer across China.

Greenpeace, which acknowledged that the authorities' efforts have reduced pollution in general and the inherent health risks, called on the government to ensure the second phase of the plan is as ambitious as the first and to include targets for reduction of ozone pollution.

--IANS

pgh/sac