Despite "Airpocalypse," China's Air Quality on the Mend

My latest Science Selection news article for Environmental Health Perspectives covers new research showing that over the last eight or years, on the whole -- including in Beijing, the Chinese capital recently beset with all-time-high particulate-matter levels -- China's air quality is actually improving. True, these recent spikes have been severe, but averaged over time and space, new data blended from satellite instruments and ground monitors show that average PM2.5 levels nationwide and in a number of key regions including Beijing have been gradually declining since approximately 2008. As discussed in my article, the reasons for this are manifold and hard to pin down, including meteorological factors potentially influenced by climate change. And in some regions of China where coal-burning and heavy industry have a heavy hold -- including one just outside the Beijing metro area, the source of some of the city's problems -- PM2.5 levels climbed steadily in the years prior to the nationwide 2007/8 inflection point and continued to do so afterward, bucking the trend and showing that significant challenges still remain. Read the full article here.