China says 75 percent of cities failed to meet air standards in June

General view of downtown Shanghai on a hazy night January 25, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) - Nearly 75 percent of China's big cities failed to meet air quality standards in June, the environment ministry said on Monday, an improvement over the same month last year, as the country continues to wage "war on pollution." Nineteen cities met air quality standards every day, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a statement on its website (, compared to five at the same time last year. Air quality in the capital Beijing was subpar on almost 60 percent of the days in June and saw levels of PM2.5 - particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers that can penetrate deep into the lungs - rise 11 percent compared to the same period last year. Amid growing public disquiet about smog and other environmental risks, China said last year it would "declare war on pollution" and it has started to eliminate substandard industrial capacity and reduce coal consumption. Last year, nearly 90 percent of China's 74 big cities failed to meet air quality standards. The state standard is 35 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter, but the government does not expect to bring the national average down to that level before 2030. In April, the vice minister for environmental protection announced a two-year inspection campaign to root out fake air quality data and accused some local governments of manipulating the data to meet national standards. (Reporting By Adam Rose; Editing by Michael Perry)