Beijing air pollution off the charts

A Danwei reader sent this in:

Beijing's air pollution index is off the charts right now. Literally. Highest ever on record.

China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) has a pollution rating scale that measures up to 500. I don't think it's ever reached that level before. 25 is safe. 200 is a bad day for Beijing. The average for the last 24 hours has been above 500.

You can see SEPA's figures for December 12. Note that while Beijing air gets a 500, the highest figure for another city is 212, measured in Shijiazhuang, a Hebei city close to Beijing.

The SEPA chart says that the major pollutant is 'inhalable particles' (可吸入颗粒物). It is not clear if that includes dust as opposed to industrial pollutants.

There are currently 3 Comments for Beijing air pollution off the charts.

Comments on Beijing air pollution off the charts

The Chinese government is clearly concerned with the health and welfare of Beijing residents, as evident from the frenzy of environmental conferences and government conferences being held out at luxury villa compounds out near the airport and in the western hills.

The yesterday's air pollution level 5 or 500 microgram of particulate matter (PM10) per cubic meter was not an all time high. Level 5 was reached for the 7th time this year. Thereof 3 times at least 500 mgr/m3. They stop counting above 500. You can check the history of Beijing's air by entering Beijing and 2006-01-01 to 2006-12-13 at this link:

The Insider’s guide to Beijing once published a statement of a Doctor from the Beijing United Family Hospital saying that you should avoid going outside when 150 mgr/m3 are reached.
Others see it even more critical. E.g., the Australian Department of Environment and the German Ministry of Environment aim for a daily maximum concentration of 50 micrograms of PM10 per cubic metre (level 1). In Germany every city is allowed to exceed this goal only 35 days per year while in Australia apparently only five days. So in Beijing do not look at the terrible ‘500’-days but look at all the bad days in 2006 when the ‘50’-goal was exceeded: Year to date, there were 347 polluted days in Beijing. Only 25 days where ‘healthy’ days.

I was in Beijing from December 9 through 16. The 9th was definitely the worst - absolutely pisonous air. The cause is not industrial pollutants or power plants. The cause is the burning and uncontrolled emissions from home heating coal furnaces (that's the particulatres and sulfur dioxide) and the growing numbers of automobiles on the streets (Nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide). In the winter, the coal smoke dominates the picture.

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