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China has been struggling with air and water pollution for many years without much success, despite efforts by the central government and its international partners. Attempts to curb pollution are set to continue and the government believes that its latest move might be an effective measure. About 15,000 large and small factories across the country will have to make their air and water pollution data publicly available in real time, Bloomberg reported.

Although there are other means to track urban air pollution that can help residents of big cities decide whether to stay indoors or to wear masks, a more thorough database providing real-time data might be useful to monitor emissions in the longer term and identify the worst polluters.

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Data that is already available is currently being analyzed by the non-profit Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs and by Renmin University's Institute of Environment and Planning. The two institutions stated that there has been a significant improvement since China adopted a transparency approach in reporting pollution levels and since emergency warnings were introduced.

However, they pointed out that there was a group of emitters, including steel factories and thermal power plants, that released toxic emissions way above the permitted levels. It is hoped that with the launch of the new program such factories will be quickly identified and measures for tackling the problem could be taken.