Hebei province and the cities of Beijing and Tianjin will enforce a unified standard that sets levels for the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the manufacturing, storage and use of construction coatings and adhesives. The measure is estimated to reduce VOCs in the air by 20%.
The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region sits at the heart of the North China Plain where air pollution, particularly winter smog, often occurs as a result of the high concentration of industrial and vehicle emissions, static air circulation and the burning of coal.
"VOCs are a key component of the ozone and PM2.5 - fine particulate matter with diameter smaller than 2.5 micrometers," said Yu Jianhua, chief engineer of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.
He said that rapid urbanisation had led construction coating and adhesives to constitute a major part of VOCs in cities. In 2015, 5.16 million tonnes of construction coatings were consumed nationwide, an eight-fold increase since 2000.
Yu said Beijing had its rules on the use of coatings and adhesives but the latest standard upgraded restrictions and widened the jurisdiction to cover Tianjin and Hebei where rules had been more relaxed.
The standard is the first jointly-issued rule for the three areas to fight air pollution.
By 2017 the region must cut PM2.5 density by 25% from 2012 levels, according to a government action plan issued in September 2013.
Beijing has been struggling to reach its target of an average PM2.5 density of 60 micrograms per cubic metre. In the first three months, its PM2.5 density averaged 84 micrograms per cubic metre. However, Beijing's government said that the city’s air quality is already ranked the best among 28 cities in the three areas.