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Env, Sci, Tech & Health

Urban Air Quality in Asia and beyond

Managing air quality is a common challenge shared by many cities in Asia, in which both population and development are growing at a quick pace.  Many are struggling to meet clean air standards. Compare current air quality conditions at the cities below. More information on the health impacts of various pollutants is available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  at AirNow.  Pollutants measured vary from city to city, but the most common are ozone (O3), inhalable coarse particles (PM10), fine particles (PM2.5), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx).   Several U.S. cities have difficulty achieving compliance with U.S. EPA Air Quality Standards. Ozone and PM2.5 are common culprits. 

Although PM2.5 exposure has been identified as a more serious health risk than PM10, many countries have not yet mandated PM2.5 monitoring.  The US EPA recently strengthened its PM2.5 standards, decreasing 24-hour limits from 65 mg/m3 to 35 mg/m3.   The World Health Organization lowered its PM2.5 guidelines in 2005 to an annual mean of 10 mg/m3 and a daily mean of 25 mg/m3. 

Below are links to current air quality data for particulates in various Asian cities, as well as other large cities, some with histories of air pollution issues.  Many countries do not yet report PM2.5. Notice that some cities provide daily averages, while others provide near-real time hourly data.  Here are some tips on minimizing pollution exposure while exercising, which are useful even if you don't have access to real time data.

Particulate Air Pollution Data
PM10  - inhalable coarse particles     PM2.5 - inhalable fine particles

U.S. Embassy Beijing Air Quality Monitor 





Pearl River Delta



Hong Kong





Kuala Lumpur





Other large cities that have tackled air quality issues:

Delhi                                 Delhi


Mexico City                      Mexico City



London                             London



Moscow                             Moscow

Sydney                             Sydney

Atlanta                             Atlanta

Chicago                            Chicago

Los Angeles                     Los Angeles

New York City                 New York City

Houston                           Houston 

Washington, DC               Washington, DC

Pittsburgh                        Pittsburgh



Other resources for air quality information 

Real-time U.S. particle pollution map and ozone map 

Japan Meteorological Administration Dust Information. Shows Japan, North and South Korea, and eastern China and Mongolia. Also 72 hour particle forecasts for the region. Clean Air Asia Initiative
U.S. Air Quality blog
China Ministry of Environmental Protection
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Clean Air Act
California Air Quality Statistics
Atlanta, GA PM2.5 Nonattainment Map
MidWest Hazecam  

Studies on health effects of PM2.5 

Fudan University
World Health Organization
Impact on children (WHO)
American Lung Association
UK Department of Health 
Fine Particles and the Heart  

Exercising in Polluted Air 

Air Pollution and Exercise
Exposure to traffic air pollution during exercise
Sports Doctor - Exercise and Air Pollution
IHT: Air Pollution Risks for Athletes
My Fit Tribe: Air Quality, Exercise, and You
Life Fitness: Exercise and Air Pollution