Face mask vendors in China had a bad time in the past winter as improving air quality dampened sales.
Anti-pollution masks sold on Alibaba’s online marketplace Tmall saw noticeable decline, with the number sold to residents in Beijing dropping 52 percent year-on-year during the first half of December, according to data from Tmall.
Sales in nearby regions such as Tianjin and Shijiazhuang also dropped compared with last year.
The decline in sales of smog-related products came as some Chinese cities enjoyed the clearest winter sky in five years thanks to sustained pollution control efforts.
In the past five years, China’s central government alone has invested over 60 billion yuan (9.47 billion U.S. dollars) into air pollution treatment, Li Ganjie, minister of environmental protection, said in a press briefing Saturday.
The level of pollutant PM2.5 in Beijing drop to 34 micrograms per cubic meter in January, the lowest monthly level since 2013, when China launched a national air pollution control campaign.
Across the country, the average density of PM2.5 in 338 cities was 43 micrograms per cubic meters in 2017, falling 6.5 percent year on year.
After decades of rapid development that left the country with thick, grey haze, China declared a war against pollution, with intensified efforts to crack down on polluters, and incentives for clean energy use.
“China is winning at record pace,” Michael Greenstone, a professor at the University of Chicago, wrote in a recent article published in the New York Times.
According to his studies, residents in China could see their lifespans extend by 2.4 years on average if the declines in air pollution persisted.
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