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Air Pollution in Asia: Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map
March 7, 2013 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Air Pollution in Asia: Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map

Beijing pollution 'worst on record'

Some context:

Tokyo and Beijing have agreed to promote technical cooperation and explore further measures for dealing with the harmful air pollution drifting to Japan from China, a government official said.

At working-level talks in Beijing on Friday, Tokyo expressed eagerness to cooperate on tackling the pollution problem, noting it not only concerns China but also has been affecting people in Japan, the official said.

The Chinese government outlined its measures for fighting the pollution and said it will look into how Japan can pitch in, adding it is seeking to commence trilateral cooperation over the matter with South Korea, which has been heavily affected due to its proximity to China.

The talks were held at Japan’s urging to consider measures against PM2.5 air pollution, or hazardous particulate matter 2.5 microns — 2.5 thousandths of a millimeter — or less in diameter that can cause severe health problems, after a thick blanket of toxic smog enveloped a large swath of China in January.
posted by KokuRyu (14 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm surprised many parts of Japan is comparable to Shenzhen and central Hong Kong.

There's are two spots in Yicheng that are crazy: 980 and 2986(!) I wonder if it's a coal mine.
posted by tksh at 9:33 AM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I thought Salt Lake's 90ug/m for the entire month of January was bad.
posted by msbutah at 9:38 AM on March 7, 2013


Some of the Japanese readings don't make much sense, such as inland areas of the Kansai region with very low readings compared to neighbouring communities with double the value. Or, some areas such as Yokkaichi that have large petrochemical plants have very low readings, compared to relatively rural coastal cities no heavy industry such as Kanazawa with relatively high amounts.

This seems to be a Chinese website using Chinese data sources, so perhaps only the data for China is accurate - who knows where they are getting data for other countries.

Or the readings can only be interpreted as the air quality in the immediate vicinity of the data collection point, rather than for a larger geographic region such as a city.

However, at this time of year strong westerlies flow from central China across northeast Asia and Japan.

Korea and Japan are going to be hellish this spring.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:48 AM on March 7, 2013


One of my colleagues let out a horrific fart yesterday. In the elevator. Just after it started moving with all his buddies including me inside. China is kinda like that guy. Except more lethal.

I live on the west coast and apparently Chinese air pollution is a significant contributor to air pollution in California. Based on this 2010 WSJ article it could be responsible for up to 30% at least in the case of lead in the SF area. I'd love to see some newer data covering a wider area and more pollutants but couldn't find anything quickly.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:52 AM on March 7, 2013


I think it's most likely that the readings can only be interpreted as the air quality in the immediate vicinity. As in, the placement of a sensor right beside a major road will give dramatically worst readings.

And oh, to give a scale of the numbers in a more humourous context: until recently, Beijing did not allow PM2.5 air quality readings to be published. So the US Consulate in Beijing published their own numbers on their air quality Twitter feed. In 2010, it read past 500 and they described it as "crazy bad".

Beijing's at 430 right now and touched 900 just earlier this year.
posted by tksh at 10:02 AM on March 7, 2013


Soliciting guesses as to the day's PM2.5 has become a bit of a morning ritual at the office, usually followed by a quick round of "Well, at least we're not in..."

Definitely interesting.
posted by lumensimus at 10:03 AM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Over the 2 years we were living in Shenzhen, we noticed the air quality getting worse. This was despite the fact that we lived by the coast and had the benefit of sea breezes (same was true for HK). Chengdu, Tianjin and Beijing were just awful. I spent a month in Beijing one November for work and had itchy eyes, could feel it in my lungs and was blowing black stuff out my nose every day. I hope the outgoing Premier's speech means they're finally taking pollution seriously.
posted by arcticseal at 10:13 AM on March 7, 2013


I was in Beijing in 1996 and couldn't believe the pollution then but it's far worse now. My daughter, adopted from China, is heading back there for a semester in the fall and I'm ready to line up the masks and I don't know what else to keep her healthy.
posted by etaoin at 10:47 AM on March 7, 2013




Some interesting images I was looking through.
posted by crapmatic at 12:33 PM on March 7, 2013


Chonquing is less polluted than Shanghai? Could have fooled me. Also, the map is misleading- the readings in China and Japan are pm25, while Singapore, Thailand and South Korea are all pm10. Particle size does matter.

Slate had an interesting article on this today.
posted by Hactar at 2:53 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, the map is misleading- the readings in China and Japan are pm25, while Singapore, Thailand and South Korea are all pm10.

if you click on the numbers, you get the city's name and an arrow to click on, which will reveal both readings, as well as other things
posted by pyramid termite at 4:52 PM on March 7, 2013


I find it hard to believe that where I am here in Korea (literally a kilometer or so from the biggest integrated steel mill in the world, and in a bay ringed by heavy industry), the air quality is apparently a 60 as of two hours ago, which is better than most places in Korea, let alone China and Japan. Huh.

Korea and Japan are going to be hellish this spring.

Yeah, the hwang-sa (yellow sand) in spring is getting steadily worse every year. I'm not hopeful about how things will go in future with that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:10 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]




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