During the Olympics in Beijing there have been quite a lot of discussion about the bad air in Beijing. And as I have myself visited Beijing several times I can say that the pollution is something that you definitely notice and can be quite bad at times. It’s quite boring when you do not see the blue sky for many days in a row. But it’s also shifting a lot, suddenly the air is very clear.
By the way here is an image of me in front of the olympic stadium which was under construction about one year ago:
There are official measuremnts of the air quality in Beijing that can be seen at MEP, while both BBC and Associated Press are making their own measurements.
The figures differs a bit and of course there can be big local variations, but until now AP has measured an average value of 326 micrograms per cubic meter of PM10 which is the most common measurement for air pollution. You can read more about PM10 at Wikipedia but one reason for importance of this measurement is that it measures particles with a size smaller than 10 micrometers, which is small enough to settle in the lungs and cause health problems. BBC’s values are a little lower with maximum values around 300, also according to BBC the yearly average is around 89. The official government data is around 160 under the olympics so far. Nevertheless it can be interesting to compare these values with other cities and your own local area.
BBC also mentions that the yearly average for London is 21. The most polluted city in the world, Cairo has a yearly average of 169, thats almost double the average of Beijing.
I found an article with numbers from Linköping in Sweden which is not far from where I grew up, there the numbers for the yearly average ranges from 18-26 depending on location in the city. Perhaps the numbers can’t be compared, but just looking at them it seems that London and Linköping is equally polluted, I find that hard to believe but anyway they are far from Beijing. In Sweden the yearly average can not be above 40 without actions being taken.
Looking at the city where I live (Oslo, Norway) one can see that the yearly average is around 25, and the report I looked at actually had data back to the 1970’s and it’s interesting to note that the PM10 values for Oslo are now only a third of what it was then, the average for 1971 for example was 74. In the 1980’s it was around 40-50, in the early 1990’s around 30. The same report also looks at SO2 where the measurements go back to the 1950’s with values around 300-400 micrograms per cubic meter, and in the early 2000’s the values were down at only 4-5 micrograms per cubic meter. NO2 was also down by the way. I was not aware that the air is so much better now (at least when looking at those three pollutants) then a few decades ago, interesting… But I am just looking at some numbers, how much of an improvement this really means I can’t say. Anyway all reports about Oslo and daily measurements can be found at luftkvalitet.info.
Well enough numbers and measurements, I am going to watch some Olympics instead 🙂