BEIJING, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Dozens of Chinese cities have begun reporting their air pollution levels as the central government moves to toughen environmental standards, authorities say.
The first public reports began Tuesday and include data on ozone, carbon monoxide and the most dangerous particles, known as PM 2.5, China Daily reported.
The information is updated every hour on the website of the China National Environmental Monitoring Center. Pollution levels during the previous 24 hours can also be checked at monitoring stations in the 74 reporting cities.
Only sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter as small as 10 micrometers were measured under the previous standards. The new standards were published in February 2012 by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
PM 2.5 pollutants are smaller and can get deeper into the lungs, making them more hazardous.
Some 8,572 people in China's major cities died prematurely in 2012 because of high levels of PM 2.5, estimated a report released in December by Greenpeace and the Peking University School of Public Health.