In Xi’an, Shanxi province in China, several officials have been arrested in connection with an effort to mislead and falsifying air quality data.

Reported by Chinese local media Chinese Business View on Tuesday, several officials engaged in illegal behaviors aimed at making the air quality in their areas appear less polluted than it was. Officials are accused of withholding the keys for local air quality stations, as well as copying the station’s coding, and even obscuring the filters with cotton to purify the samples.

Though the China National Environmental Monitoring Center initially marked the falsified results as an “anomaly,” they performed a full investigation and eventually uncovered the deception.

Several unnamed officials have been taken into custody over the false data.

These officials likely acted in these illegal acts because they felt that their careers were in danger. If an official in charge of one area sees a decrease in air quality, that can negatively affect their career – even ending it.

Of course, falsifying data misleads the nation into believing that they are improving their environmental impact. This therefore exposes residents in that area to unsafe air, though they may believe it to be safe.

In order to protect their livelihoods, these officials felt it was worth it to jeopardize the health of their constituents.

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Sydney Robinson is a political writer for the Ring of Fire Network. She has also appeared in political news videos for Ring of Fire. Sydney has a degree in English Literature from the University of West Florida, and has an active interest in politics, social justice, and environmental issues. She would love to hear from you on Twitter @SydneyMkay or via email at srobinson@ringoffireradio.com