According to China's latest pollution rankings, the country's most polluted city is now Urumqi. Linfen, the city that formally held this title, is showing some small progress, says a recent article in The Guardian. Swallowed up by 50m tonnes of coal mined each year in the nearby hills of Shanxi province and located smack in the middle of a 12-mile industrial belt, Linfen plains to shutdown 160 of 196 iron foundries, and 57 of 153 coking plants by the end of 2007. In 2006, if you lived in Linfen, you inhaled 163 days of unhealthy air—but that's a 15 day improvement when compared to 2005.
Despite recent green policies, cleanup efforts, and the launch of a green building program, economic growth usually crushes environmental concerns in China. In Bejing, the curtain of smog over the city was only recently labeled haze--previously, it was called fog.
Therefore, the improvement in Linfen is remarkable. "The changes are being driven by business (nobody wants to invest in such a polluted place), bureaucratic self-interest (local officials find it difficult to be promoted) and shifting political priorities," The Guardian reports. Thanks tipster Mike. ::The Guardian