What Are The Least Polluted Cities in China? (2020)

Looking to find one of the least polluted cities in China to get a break from the pollution? Here is a list of the least polluted cities for 2020 with the best air quality in China.

Rankings: Least Polluted Cities in China (2020)

1. Lhasa, Tibet (8.8 μg/m3)

Lhasa Air Pollution

2. Haikou, Hainan (11 μg/m3)

Haikou Air Pollution

3. Xiamen, Fujian (15.4 μg/m3)

Xiamen Air Pollution

4. Shenzhen, Guangdong (15.9 μg/m3)

Shenzhen Air Pollution

5. Shantou, Guangdong (17.3 μg/m3)

Shantou Air Pollution

6. Yunfu, Guangdong (17.8 μg/m3)

Yunfu Air Pollution

7. Fuzhou, Fujian (18.2 μg/m3)

Fuzhou Air Pollution

8. Kunming, Yunan (18.7 μg/m3)

Kunming Air Pollution

9. Hegang, Heilongjiang (19.2 μg/m3)

Hegang Air Pollution

10. Guiyang, Guizhou (19.2 μg/m3)

Guiyang Air Pollution


Only 1 of the 52 cities (Lhasa, Tibet) analyzed had pollution levels below the recommended limits. Nine of the top ten least polluted cities were located in the south, with Hegang, Heilongjiang as the lone exception.

How Air Pollution Was Measured

There are various pollutants (both particles and gases) that can be found in the air. One of the most commonly tracked pollutants are very small, fine particles called PM2.5.

These small pollutants are under 2.5 micrograms in width and considered to be one of the more dangerous pollutants due to their ability to enter deep into the lungs and bloodstream.

Recommended limits

The limit that is closely aligned to what studies show about the health effects of pollution is the annual limit of 10 micrograms/m3. 


2020 has been an unordinary year, and research shows a period in 2020 with decreased air pollution levels around the world partly due to factory shutdowns from COVID-19.

How I protect myself

Step 1: I use cheap, empirically backed air purifiers at home.

While coughing through a Beijing winter, I started building and testing DIY purifiers to help protect my lungs without spending the thousands of dollars a certain large Swiss company is telling me I need to pay. 

Smart Air is a certified B Corp committed to combating the myths big companies use to inflate the price of clean air.

Smart Air provides empirically backed, no-nonsense purifiers and masks, that remove the same particles as the big companies for a fraction of the cost. Only corporations benefit when clean air is a luxury.

Check out the Sqair!

Sqair Air Purifier

Step 2: I wear cheap, empirically backed masks outside.

When air pollution became a hot topic in Beijing, I heard lots of people debate whether masks actually work or just provide psychological comfort. The scientific data is very clear on this: many simple masks block over 90% of even the smallest particles, even while people are actually wearing them. Some of these masks cost as little as about 50 cents. Here’s a picture of me fit testing one of those masks.

Mask Fit Test Procedure

Step 3: I learned some basic facts about air pollution that I use to make decisions to reduce my exposure.

For example, even without an air purifier, particulate pollution levels indoors are around roughly 50–60% of outdoor levels on average, as long as doors and windows are closed. Thus, I work out indoors, and I almost always sit inside at cafes.

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Smart Air is a social enterprise that creates simple, no-nonsense air purifiers and provides free education to protect people’s health from the effects of air pollution. We are proud to be the only certified B-Corp dedicated to fighting air pollution.