Air quality

The BBC is Lying

So, I made a complaint to the BBC about them using an archived photograph of a day with horrible air pollution in Beijing, instead of a current one (we had excellent weather for the better part of a month). I also pointed-out that the AQI was fantastic (it got down to *10* at one point after I complained).

Here is their response:

Thank you for getting in touch about our report on Beijing and please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. This was a report about air quality, which is now an issue of concern among China’s leadership, so it seemed appropriate to use a photograph illustrating traffic and air pollution. The weather on May 27th does not appear to be of relevance to this story.

Folks, air quality has been an issue here for a long time, but especially since 2001 (when Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympics).

Yes, air quality needs to improve… but, well, it doesn’t justify providing a misleading image¬† or leaving-out AQI data.

Oh, today’s weather isn’t good. White hazy smog with an AQI of 331 (Hazardous).

I’m sure that the BBC will once again start reporting on our weather, which they haven’t done so far this summer.

And, just in case you’ve missed the pictures I’ve taken of our fantastic weather, they can be seen here.

Another Perspective on Beijing Air Quality

Yep, air quality was bad this weekend. But, no, some gray blanket of smog wasn’t laid over the city for all eternity.

For example, here’s a picture I took from the roof of my apartment complex (about 30 floors) at 4 pm today:

At that time, the Beijing AQI was 117… which translates to “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups”, but certainly breathable enough.

Right now, around 6:30 pm, the index is at 277… it might just get into the 300+ range, which would mean hazardous¬†conditions.

Air quality during the summer and winter months can be positively manic.

But, during the six or so years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen the overall air quality improve year after year.

The factors behind Beijing’s air quality are complex.

I don’t think that the myopic reporting being done by most Western media outlets is helping people understand the situation.



Well, Hello… Kitty

Many years ago, right about when I started traveling to Beijing, I remember seeing a magazine with some guys (Japanese, perhaps) wearing Hello Kitty face masks. I think it was mainly about the longevity of this character, which has existed since 1974.

In any event, in recent times, I’ve had the urge to get one… a black one. Somehow, wearing a white Hello Kitty mask just didn’t seem right.

After months of pestering my wife to order one for me, she (against her better judgement) did so.

Today, with the snow falling and cold wind blowing, I thought it would be an ideal time to break it out.


I must say that it certainly made a difference against the cold.

Today turned out to be one of the few “white-out” days we’ve had this winter, with the AQI currently at 327. I mean, the air so brown with coal dust and other sediment that I was glad when the sun set so I didn’t need to look into it.

The nice thing about wearing the mask is that I didn’t smell the coal until I took the mask off just before entering my apartment build.

(The Beijing government provides steam heating to most apartment buildings. Unfortunately, the steam is generated by burning coal. So, if there isn’t any wind and the temperature is really cold, air quality can certainly be adversely affected.)