Air pollution in China is so critically bad, that even national fireworks celebrations of the Chinese New Year have been tempered to reduce threats to health. Throughout the country, cities are either banning or reducing the amount of fireworks allowed to go off — a proactive measure that likely will do little to reduce the crippling air pollution that continuously plagues the nation.

"Fireworks will generate a huge amount of pollution in a short time, increasing the density of sulfur dioxide and PM2.5, the major airborne pollutants," Li Yunting, director of air quality at the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center told CRI. "After that short period of time, diffusion conditions largely determine the severity and duration of the air pollution caused by the fireworks."

For Beijing in particular, the aftermath of fireworks celebrations will bring critical air pollution levels that, thanks to a series of forecasted windless days, will linger in the city.

Such measures to curb pollution come on the heels of a  report earlier this month that found 90 percent of Chinese cities failed to meet air standards in 2014. The foul air is so bad, that many have compared the scenes in major industrial centers such as Beijing and Hebei to like "living through a nuclear winter." Despite last year declaring a "war on pollution," China's deputy minister of environmental protection says the country will have to made serious reductions before any true improvements will be seen and felt. 

"According to expert assessments, emissions will have to fall another 30-50 percent below current levels if we are to see noticeable changes in environmental quality," he told reporters. 

If you are interested in celebrating the Chinese New Year without polluting the skies above China, check out last night's celebration above the Hudson in New York City. The air quality index there is a moderate 66, while in Beijing, the U.S. embassy measures the AQI at a hazardous 438

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Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

China reins in New Year fireworks to curb air pollution
Dozens of cities throughout the country have either banned or limited fireworks displays due to the threat of heavy pollution.