BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Economic recovery has partly caused the country's air quality to fall in the first half of the year, the first such fall since 2005, figures from environmental authorities showed on Monday.
Ninety-one percent of the days in the first six months recorded air quality reaching or exceeding the national standard of Grade II in 113 major cities, a drop of 0.3 percentage points compared with the same period last year, an environmental quality report released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection showed.
The amount of inhalable particles, a major air pollution index, was also 0.091 milligrams per cubic meter in these cities, rising from 0.002 milligrams per cubic meter over the same period last year, the ministry reported.
"It was the first time for these cities to record a fall in the number of days with good air quality and a rise in the concentration of inhalable particles since 2005," ministry spokesman Tao Detian said.
That means the country is still facing "a grave situation in fighting pollution", he said.
The worsening urban air pollution was mainly caused by sandstorms that occurred frequently in spring, said Chai Fahe, vice-president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.
"More construction and industrial projects that started this year due to economic recovery, as well as the rapid increase in automobiles, should also be blamed," he said.
"It's no surprise that the statistics are negative. I can't count on the environment improving significantly in a short time and I have to get used to it," Beijinger Li Zhixin said.