Last night, 7:23, according to the monitoring equipment installed in the U.S. embassy in Beijing:
What “500” means:
150+ = “Unhealthy”, 200+ = “Very Unhealthy”, 300+ = “Hazardous”. So what are we supposed to call it when it maxes out the scale?
Of course, you might be wondering what the Ministry of Environmental Protection was reporting at the same time:
The Chinese version site had the same:
As we couldn’t see down the street today, I don’t wonder who’s numbers are more accurate. However, three things you need to know about comparing pollution numbers:
- Part of the reason for the discrepancy is that China doesn’t monitor the smaller, more harmful forms of air pollution.
- It also helps that they shifted the location of their monitoring equipment to get better averages and record more “blue sky days”.
- Measurement scales vary from country to country. You can see how China’s pollution scale compares to those of Hong Kong and the U.S. here: Using the Beijing Air Quality Index (AQI) – Part I. These are also helpful (Wikipedia): Air Quality Index and Air Pollution Index. This site has a convenient widget that lets you compare China’s interpretation of its current pollution levels with that of other countries.
On days like this you can smell it as soon as you open the front door and see it just by looking across the street.
We first found these sites via MyHealth Beijing. Click the screen shots to view the source pages. See the links below for some pollution photos.