Air Quality in Beijing

Matt | | Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Yesterday and today, I had trouble breathing. I woke up with phlegm in my nose and throat. I look outside and it’s as clear as mud outside. Actually, the sky looks like a soup of crap and that’s exactly what it is. Sorry, my technical knowledge of the pollutants is a little weak (crap = very bad pollutants). About one year ago, I became fixated on air pollution in Beijing and I was curious about how bad it was or how I could find out. Then a friend of mine introduced me to and I was delighted and disgusted at the same time.

It’s great to know the number. It’s great to be able to compare Beijing/Shanghai with other cities in the world. And I think it’s great that this information is being tracked and given out. I think that transparency is a good thing.

Still, the numbers itself is often awful. Out of a metric of 500 the number is usually just under 100. This is average to bad air in the US.

On Mar 10 2008

Air quality in

is Good, index II (index max: V).


, same air would be considered as Unhealthy for sensitive groups, index 110 (index max :500).

Today the number for Beijing is 238!!! So I am curious what this would be considered in America or Canada?

To view the different cities you need to click on a few of the Useful Links:

Useful Links: Beijing Environmental Bureau – on the right side you’ll see a colourful map of Beijing. Click on the blue district in the middle and that’s the middle of town. You’ll get a list of all the district measuring stations in Beijing. This will give you a general idea of the air quality all over the city.

Useful Links: Air Pollution Index on SEPA – this site is in English and tells you all cities in China. This one has been cleaned up recently and looks pretty good.

I prefer looking at the first one to get the view of Beijing’s air quality.

All I know is that today is 238!!! and I’ve got something stuck in the back of my throat that I want to hoark out, but I can’t. My throat is sore. People around me are getting sick and complaining about their allergies due to air quality.

Today is bad. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

Paper not Plastic

Matt | | Friday, March 7th, 2008

In June 2008 a lot of people in China will be changing their ideas on the environment and specifically around plastic bags. Come June 1, when you go to the grocery store to buy your food you’ll be charged something for each plastic bag (RMB 0.20) you take. The intent is to reduce the use of plastic bags and in turn reducing the amount of plastic that goes into the land fills as well as resources used in making the bags (37m bbls of oil supposedly).

Now, initially, I wasn’t pleased to hear this news. As I currently use my large grocery plastic bags as garbage bags in my apartment. So I end up reusing them, at least once. After June 1st, I’ll have to either pay the 0.20 per bag or buy the little white garbage bags for my apartment. Or shockingly, I could find another option that would be more environmentally friendly.

But, then I was looking on one day and saw a picture of where plastic bags end up, and then I thought that this ban is a great idea, especially in China.

A heck of a lot of plastic bags are being used here. In a culture where touching things, especially food, with your hands is considered rude, plastic bags have become a necessity. It’s not uncommon to go to the bakery and to have each individual pastry in it’s own bag. This way I can eat each pastry, in the tiny plastic bag and to not touch it with my hands. So, just in volume of consumers 1.4b people, this can have a great impact on the environment.

In actual fact, I think the greater impact will be from the increased awareness of environmental issues here in China and around the world. It bothers me a lot when I see people littering and throwing their junk anywhere. And to hear people talking about environmental problems and things like this plastic bags ban means that it is on the conscience of a lot of people. I believe this will result in the greatest impact down the road.

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