Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Here We Go Again (Air Pollution)

Wednesday 8:05 am:

Anna: What a strange weather today. The colors are really weird.

Thomas: I know what it is mom. It is pollution day. I am going to need my jacket against the pollution...

Just a snapshot from an otherwise average day: the pollution count is "only" in the 200s -- on a scale from 0 - 500 (see this post from last year)-- but indeed the colors outside are weird. It might also just have been a lot of sand and dust, I am not sure. It just kind of looked surreal out there just after 8 am.

8am? Yikes, Thomas missed the school bus and I drove him to school. The little whippersnapper took a couple shots from the pollution day for my blog.

If you want to learn more about air pollution, there's a very recent article in the New York Times, presenting the good news that China itself has started to track PM2.5 concentrations (the concentration of the smallest and thus unhealthiest dust and pollution particles). The American Embassy in Beijing has already for a long time been reporting those numbers on twitter, but the Chinese government had never publicly released this data, or used it for its air quality assessments.

The fact that de PM2.5 data is now officially measured and published, however, doesn't mean that there is a national standard for what these levels should be. And the PM2.5 levels here in northern China are already much higher than what's even allowed in the U.S.:

"In a yet-to-be-released December report relying on Chinese government statistics, the World Bank said that average annual PM 2.5 concentrations in northern Chinese cities exceeded U.S. limits by five to six times. In southern Chinese cities, the concentrations were two to four times higher."
(From the New York Times article; note the reference to the World Bank.)

Thomas in his pollution gear in front of our house.


Who needs a school bus if your mom has a car?

View from the back seat. A lot of pollution dust in China comes from the many construction sites. You can see on the photo that you never have to go far to find one. Two houses next to us--covered by the black plastic in the photo--have been completely removed last summer and will probably be rebuilt this spring.

8:30 am. School is about to start and it is supposed to be more light outside...

In het nederlands: Ik schrijf nog al eens over de vervuiling hier. We praten hier over vervuiling zoals je over het weer in Nederland praat. (Wat is de index? Gaat het waaien? Als het regent, regent het wel weer weg...). Vandaag was overigens niet een bijzonder vieze dag (de vervuilingsindex was "slechts" 200 op een schaal van 500, wat weliswaar in andere landen als zwaar vervuild wordt gezien maar hier regelmatig voorkomt) maar het was vooral raar geel en stoffig. Ik bracht Thomas even naar school en hij maakte de foto's vanaf de achterbank. (Ik beloof overigens binnenkort ook weer een fotootje van Simon te posten! Die had natuurlijk wel netjes de bus gehaald...)

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