Beijing says air quality improved in first half of 2016

BEIJING (AP) — Beijing says its notoriously awful air quality improved significantly in the first half of the year.

The Chinese capital’s Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said on its website late Monday that concentrations of microscopic PM2.5 particles dropped by 17.9 percent in the first six months against the same period last year.

The number of days in which air quality was rated good grew by 19, to 107, while the number of days with heavy pollution fell by two, to 14.

The closure of 174 heavily polluting Beijing factories was among the reasons given for the improvement, along with the switching of 463 communities from coal to alternative energy sources, the retirement of tens of thousands of exhaust-spewing cars, trucks and buses, and the addition of 6,803 vehicles running purely on electricity.