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Environment & Climate Change

U.S Embassy Beijing Air Quality Monitor

The U.S. Embassy has an air quality monitor to measure PM 2.5 particulates as an indication of the air quality on the Embassy compound located in Chaoyang district.  Pollutants such as particle pollution are linked to a number of significant health effects -- and those effects are likely to be more severe for sensitive populations, including people with heart or lung disease, children, and older adults.  This monitor is a resource for the health of the American community.  Citywide analysis cannot be done, however, on data from a single machine.

Particulates less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM 2.5) are referred to as “fine” particulates and are believed to pose the largest health risks.  PM 2.5 is a standard recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and allows us to compare against U.S. standard measures.  PM 2.5 particulates are of concern since they are small enough to directly enter the lungs and even the blood stream.  For more information, please visit the EPA site.

The U.S. EPA has developed a formula to convert PM 2.5 readings into an air quality index (AQI) value that can help inform health-related decisions. For example, an AQI value of 50 represents good air quality with little potential to affect public health, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality. Please note that AQI is different from the Air Pollution Index (API) used in China. For more information on AQI and how it is calculated, please click here.

The monitor's measurements, expressed in the form of PM 2.5 concentration (micrograms per cubic meter, µg/m3) and corresponding AQI, are available on Twitter .

Air Quality Index  (AQI) 

PM2.5  

Health Effects Statement

PM 2.5

Cautionary Statement


Good 
(0-50)
PM2.5 air pollution poses little or no risk. None

Moderate
(51-100)
Unusually sensitive individuals may experience respiratory symptoms. Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.

Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
 
(101-150)
Increasing likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
Unhealthy        
(151-200)
Increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; increased respiratory effects in general population. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion; everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
Very Unhealthy 
(201-300)
Significant aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; significant increase in respiratory effects in general population. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.
Hazardous 
(301-500)
Serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; serious risk of respiratory effects in general population. Everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors; people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors and keep activity levels low.

The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection provides its own air quality data for cities throughout China.  You can view this information at http://www.cnemc.cn. (In Chinese)

Latest Air Quality for Beijing

Key

  • Date and time of reading; pollutant type; concentration; AQI; definition.