China is set to implement strict controls on airborne sulfur next month to cut air pollution, China Daily reported. The controls requiring the use of low-sulfur coal take effect Aug. 1, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Air quality is a growing concern in China as leaders recognize the country’s growth-at-all-costs economic model has taken a severe toll on the environment, China Daily said. Although the nation has numerous laws regulating environmental pollutions, monitoring is lax and powerful industrial interests are reluctant to comply.

To cut coal consumption, China announced plans last September to close mills, factories and smelters while pushing steelmakers and power plants to buy better raw materials, as noted by the New York Times.

This week, China Daily reported it would be 16 years before fine particulates drop to a safe level. Beijing’s level averages 3.5 times the standard set by the World Health Organization.

Pan Tao, who heads the Beijing Municipal Research Institute of Environmental Protection, said at a conference this month that improving air quality will not be easy, China Daily reported. “It takes time and effort to turn the ship around,” he said.

The New York Times reported multinational companies are having a hard time recruiting foreign workers for jobs in Beijing because of the air quality there.

The Times said a Ministry of Environmental Protection report found only three of 74 Chinese cities tested met minimum air-quality standards.