Tianjin: where jogging is bad for your health

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:

  1. Part of the reason for the discrepancy is that China doesn’t monitor the smaller, more harmful forms of air pollution.
  2. It also helps that they shifted the location of their monitoring equipment to get better averages and record more “blue sky days”.
  3. 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.


12 thoughts on “Tianjin: where jogging is bad for your health”

  1. “So what are we supposed to call it when it maxes out the scale?”

    Time to take up smoking the cheapest, nastiest, highest tar cigarettes available, because at least that way you have a filter between you and the atmosphere. Just try not to ignite the atmosphere as you light up (note: as a reformed smoker, I am certainly not advocating smoking).

  2. Having visited Beijing before I remember how bad the pollution was but at the time didn’t realise it was so bad that it would be a health risk to jog in it! When I go back this time I’ll be keeping to the indoor treadmills!

  3. is it that bad..? i went to tianjin and beijing this winter break, and i could not feel much difference between them and houston, where now i am.

    but i still remember the first time i went to beijing when i was about 10… i cannot clearly see the building 500m away from the one i was living.

    1. Winter gets more clear(er) days because it’s more often windy. But TJ is at least as bad as BJ. Even on clear days at noon, if you look toward the horizon (between the buildings) you can see the colours change.

      I remember the humidity in Houston — I suddenly got a ‘fro.

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