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Sharing Air Quality Data in Beijing

2013 December 9
Gina McCarthy


December 9, 2013
10:48 am EDT

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On Monday, during my first full day in China, I had the opportunity to visit the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau air monitoring center and hear from Director General Chen Tian about the organization’s commitment to tracking important environmental information and sharing it with the public.

Founded in 1974, the center is the first ever environmental monitoring center in China. It has 195 staff and 37 stations throughout the city, and does monitoring on air, water, soil and noise pollution.

The center is responsible for monitoring an area of almost 6,500 square miles–inhabited by 25 million people–and is home to state-of-the-art equipment that provides real time reporting. Beginning last year, the center started publishing hourly data on PM2.5, the fine particulate matter that has been shown to cause serious health problems, including heart attacks, strokes and premature death.

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This was an important stop during my visit, since the center provides detailed information on air quality in Beijing—and understanding the problem is the first necessary step in developing a long-term strategy to address this issue.

I’m impressed by China’s work to develop an effective air quality management infrastructure that’s centrally organized and locally implemented, understanding that success depends on engagement with provinces and cities like Beijing.

Addressing air quality issues presents both a challenge and an opportunity for cooperation between the U.S. and China.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. W Glen Bateman Jr permalink
    December 15, 2013

    I’m wondering about light pollution there, I have seen the diff. between when there IS & when there isn’t on a Bahamas trip…. So it bothers gazers and astronomers only? it takes power, and adverTARDS don’t mind their ideas being well lit. As if some deliberately do not buy because of that-like I don’t like to vote for the DORK whose signs(most signs?)litter roadsides. Bored desperate humans(racing about doing NOTHING really!) with eyes on their neighbors(Jones’).

  2. Brett Kuntze permalink
    December 22, 2013

    Why are we still using firewood ? It no longer makes any sense in today’s reality . We have healthcare costs going through the roof and it is time to ban firewood now. This will go a long way to slow down the soaring costs of healthcare across America.The well off people are less concerned with healthcare costs than lower income people much similiar to soaring energy costs. The EPA is doing a great job elsewhere but when it comes to firewood. .. EPA needs to do more if not to eliminate firewood altogether. I know that jobs will be lost , but it will save a lot of other jobs that will eventually be lost as healthcare costs keep soaring . We already have it that bad and to keep letting people using firewood , it is already unacceptable. EPA approved fireplaces and stoves reduce pollution by only 75% which is still not good enough. Even using EPA approved stoves, it still pollutes the air too much. We ought to use natural gas for heating and coal for electricity base generation. I think it is foolish to use natural gas for electricity generation at powerplants. I support clean coal technology and we ought to conserve natural gas for heating. If we let powerplants keep switching to natural gas , then natural gas prices will go up higher than otherwisely. This will mean people will be avoiding expensive natural gas in favor of firewood. the HVAC industry is still not doing a good job of making heating with natural gas a very exciting thing to buy because the HVAC do not provide any glowing heat that people craves from firewood. The closest thing is wall heaters which people frequently huddles around to get equivalent glow of heat that comes from firewood. People will feel that they are getting their money worth if they can have a small source of glowing heat as if it is a stove.. The HVAC has to redesign heating systems to provide for that. It is not practical to tell us to set our themostats at 68 F and shiver. Again, firewood smoke is not a pleasant thing to breath to the contrary of what many people would think .I just dont understand why EPA continues to be so soft on firewood air pollution in all neighborhoods. The EPA should address more aggressively to those daily users than occassional users. Those daily users has no business using firewood !! It is supposed to be enviromentally illegal by now. Please do something about firewood air pollution. This year for the first time there is spare the air alerts for almost two weeks in consecutive which is unbelievable! People get sick from firewood polluiton and think that they get sick from soemthing else which is not true. People are not likely to blame firewood air pollution for headaches, bodyaches, sinusitis, dry eyes, etc. They tend to blame something else and watch Dr Oz.show in hopes for something that may help them. Dr Oz has never suggested firewood as a common cause of ailments. Never! What a joke!

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