A trend report on air pollution.



The Air Pollution Control Act — one of the nine basic environmental protection laws and the overarching legislation for air pollution control — was introduced in 1987, setting out the government’s responsibility for supervision and the respective roles of central and local governments as well as legal liability for pollutant emission into the air. The act was revised in 2000 (second version) and 2015 (the latest, third version).

The chart below shows the timeline of the act from its introduction to the present.

Below is the table of contents of the Air Pollution Control Act (second version)

  • Chapter I General Provisions
  • Chapter II Standards and Plans for Air Pollution Control
  • Chapter III Supervision and Management of Air Pollution Control
  • Chapter IV Air Pollution Control Measures
    • Section 1 Control of Pollution from Coal Combustion and Other Forms of Power Generation
    • Section 2 Industrial Pollution Control
    • Section 3 Control of Pollution from Motor Vehicles and Vessels
    • Section 4 Dust Pollution Control
    • Section 5 Control of Agricultural and Other Forms of Pollution
  • Chapter V Joint Air Pollution Control Measures in Key Areas
  • Chapter VI Measures on Heavily Polluted Weather
  • Chapter VII Legal Liabilities
  • Chapter VIII Supplementary Provisions

In 2018, the third version of the act was amended because of changes in the government’s organization, including the transformation of the Ministry of Environmental Protection into the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.



The Air Pollution Control Act controls air pollution from coal, industry, motor vehicles and vessels, dust and agriculture; promotes joint air pollution control measures in large regions; and takes comprehensive measures on air pollutants and greenhouse gases such as aerosol particles, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and ammonia.

As such, this act regulates any manufacturers (fixed air pollution sources), vehicles (mobile air pollution sources) and products that have an impact on the air environment or emit pollutants into the atmosphere.


Regulations and standards

Air pollution sources above should conform to the regulations and standards shown below.

Pollutants from fixed sources may not be emitted without the pollutant discharge license.

Standards for fixed air pollution sources (e.g. manufacturers)
Name Code Effective date
Emission Standard of Air Pollutants for Paint, Ink and Adhesive Industry GB 37824-2019 July 1, 2019
List of Toxic and Hazardous Air Pollutants (2018 version) Jan. 23, 2019
Integrated Emission Standard of Air Pollutants GB 16297-1996 Jan. 1, 1997
Emission Standards for Odor Pollutants GB 14554-93 Jan. 15, 1994
Standards for mobile air pollution sources (e.g. vehicles)
Limits and Measurement Methods for Emissions from Light-duty Vehicles (CHINA 6) GB 18352.6-2016 July 1, 2020
Limits and Measurement Methods for Emissions from Diesel Fueled Heavy-duty Vehicles (CHINA 6) GB 17691-2018 July 1, 2019
Standards for the control of air pollution caused by products (e.g. products containing VOCs)
Limits of Volatile Organic Compounds in
Printing Ink
GB 38507-2020 Apr. 1, 2021
Limits for Volatile Organic Compounds Content in Cleaning Agents GB 38508-2020 Nov. 1, 2020
Limit of Volatile Organic Compounds Content in Adhesive GB 33372-2020 Nov. 1, 2020


Reference websites

More information about regulations on air pollution is provided on the official sites below.

  1. The Air Pollution Control Act
  2. List of Toxic and Hazardous Air Pollution (2018 version)
  3. List of Advanced Technologies for Air Pollution Control (2018 version)
  4. Standards for air pollution control
  5. Public Notice of the Special Emission Limits for Air Pollutants


EnviX’s view

After the Three-Year Action Plan to Win the Battle against Air Pollution, more environmental policies adjusted to specific industrial demands are expected to be developed as China’s industry continues to grow.

Recent regulations of local governments have been getting increasingly sophisticated; this trend is likely to continue for some time.

In addition, current standards such as the Integrated Emission Standard of Air Pollutants (GB 16297-1996) and Emission Standards for Odor Pollutants (GB 14554-93) are being revised now as they are too obsolete for the present conditions. Their revision is scheduled to be completed by 2020. Including these standards, China’s regulations are going to become tighter and tighter.

According to the China’s Annual Environment Report, the air quality in the country is getting better now, but the concentration of some pollutants, especially PM2.5, PM10 and O3, are still at high levels. It is anticipated that regulations on VOCs, which are the main cause of these pollutants, will continue to be the focus of China’s air pollution control policies.