AQI

Anhui Tower

Taken with my iPhone five days ago, on what was a beautiful blue-sky day.

Today, unfortunately, is not such a day. The aqi at the US Embassy is at 429 as I write this (the scale tops-out at 500), and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets worse over the evening. (One note… the reading at the US Embassy is from just one site in a city with a municipality that is larger in area than Rhode Island… it is great as an indicator, and for historical comparisons, but shouldn’t be used as the definitive guide to Beijing’s air quality.)

During the winter months, steam is produced at plants throughout the city, and then piped to distribution centers, before going into dwellings. Unfortunately, these plants are coal-fired… and I don’t mean the “clean burning” type, either.

In addition, there are (usually poorer) households/communities that don’t get steam, and rely on heat by directly burning coal.

During these grey days, I do as most other Beijing people do: limited outside activity, wear a mask when outside, keep the windows and doors shut tight when at home, and look forward to the next big wind.

That said, I don’t dwell on it. It has been part of life during my eight years here, and is certainly not overshadowed by other things that I think make Beijing a wonderful place to live.

Building. Wires. Clouds. Sky.

And, just like that, the white clouds and blue skies are back here in the northern capital of the middle kingdom.

I took this picture around 3 pm, when the AQI was 57 (Moderate). You can see a screenshot of the AQI for the last 24 hours here.

 

Party World

Reflections of clouds and blue sky in the glass of our neighborhood Party World KTV.

I got lucky with the alignment of the clouds not in the reflection.

Oh, the AQI over the past 24 hours was Moderate. Right now, it is Good. Of course, this won’t be mentioned in Western media.

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.

Brown, White, and Blue

I looked up when leaving the apartment complex a few days ago, and saw this. One of the nice things of having a camera with me on a fairly regular basis. 🙂

Today’s weather, unfortunately, is a bit smoggy. AQI has been in the unhealthy range as well.

Hopefully, we’ll get some rain and/or wind tonight, and get back to the beautiful weather.

 

BBC Pollution Bias

I took this picture a few hours ago as I was leaving work. Yet another beautiful summer day in Beijing. Blue skies, white clouds, low air pollution (currently at 50 AQI).

The Chinese government today announced plans to remove six million vehicles from the road by the end of the year that don’t meet exhaust emission standards (which, if you’ve not seen “An Inconvenient Truth”, are higher than those in the US).

So, instead of taking a picture today, the BBC used this:

You can see the BBC article here.

The View from a Lobby Window

Taken yesterday around 6:30 pm. A lot of reworking because of the contrast differences between inside and out, as well as the window being fairly dirty. That said, still pretty close to what I saw.

The AQI at that time was something around 80 (or Moderate). As I write this (noontime on Saturday), the sky looks fairly good, but the AQI is in the Unhealthy range… after (hopefully) having peaked around 10 am in the Very Unhealthy range.

Q&A: Do China’s Cities Have the World’s Worst Air Pollution?

Q: Do China’s cities have the world’s worst air pollution?

A: No.

Q: Umh, what about all those articles about the subject?

A. Most of the articles regarding China’s air pollution problem (and there certainly is one), don’t offer any data. That is, they merely state that the air in China’s cities is the worst.

Or, if they do provide data, it usually isn’t comparative in nature. For example, they’ll give the air quality index for a city in China, tell you it is bad (which it probably is), but then won’t tell you how cities in other countries are faring.

Q. Okay, fine, which countries have worse urban air pollution?

A. For those countries for which there is data, they are:

No Country Data
1 Mongolia 279
2 Botswana 216
3 Pakistan 198
4 Senegal 145
5 Saudi Arabia 143
6 Egypt 138
7 United Arab Emirates 132
8 Iran (Islamic Republic of) 124
9 Nigeria 124
10 Kuwait 123
11 Bangladesh 120
12 Bosnia and Herzegovina 117
13 India 109
14 Nepal 106
15 Ghana 98

Q. Where is this data from?

A. The World Health Organization.

In particular, a page on Public Health and Environment (PHE): outdoor air pollution, charting exposure to particulate matter less than 10 µm in diameter in urban areas*, from data available between 2003 and 2010.

Q. Can I look at the data myself?

A. Sure.  The data is available (in sortable table, bar chart, and map forms) at:

http://gamapserver.who.int/gho/interactive_charts/phe/oap_exposure/atlas.html

Note: See underneath the map for information regarding the asterisk in the previous answer.

Ice Fishing

Today has not been a good air day. Although we’ve had our share, today just wasn’t one of them.The AQI is at 377 right now (anything above 300 is considered hazardous), and I wouldn’t doubt it if it gets close to the 500 mark before the night is through… this being the last night of the lunar new year festivities (read fireworks galore) and all.

One extremely small upside is that it allowed for a wonderful reflection in the above shot. I actually didn’t see it when I took the picture. I was starting out wide as I zoomed in on the man ice fishing, which I thought was interesting enough by itself (himself?).