Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Beijing: Air Quality this August

To you I must seem obsessed with air quality and pollution. Well, I am living here! I am breathing this air. And my son and I have often respiratory problems, but more at night than during the day. The latter is probably because the new paint in our house contains more lead than what they found in the Mattel toys in the U.S.

Coming back to the air quality this month in Beijing. For two long weekends in a row (2 x 4 days) about half of the cars were taken off the road, which reduced traffic jams, but I think the effect on the air was not that big. The SEPA records for Beijing show, the air this August was quiet good, lots of 'level 2 days', however, no matter cars were off the road or not. The air was better than last July, however about the same as in August 2006 when there were no even-uneven-car-reduction-tests. 'Level 2' means under 100 mgr particulate matters per cubic meter. A 'Level 2 day' in Beijing is considered as a 'blue sky day', a good day. I have posted here about pollution levels and different standards in Europe (good is below 50) and Australia (good is below 30).

Anyway, today all the cars are back on the street and the sky is the bluest since I am back in town (one week).

When checking the air quality data published by SEPA on Monday 20st, I first thought that there is a database problem because it showed only the air quality of one single city (instead of 84 major cities in China). I did not pay further attention until I found out today via Danwei that there are still no data for Monday 20st, last day of the car-reduction test! The next available data after Sunday 19th are from Tuesday 21st, a 'level 3' day, that, btw I mentioned above, was a very clear deep blue sky day! So what air quality we had on Monday? I guess level 3, above 100 mgr.PM/m3 ... (picture via Danwei)

Summary: The car-reduction-test was a success for the traffic situation, but not for the air quality, although it is communicated to the public as an overall success.

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