Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

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Relax. Take A Deep Breath.

Posted by MyLaowai on Friday, January 11, 2008

According to SEPA, the State Environmental Protection Administration, Shanghai has today an Air Pollution Index (API) of 119, which makes it a “Grade 3A” day. That’s according to SEPA, of course. I wouldn’t want to bet on it being entirely accurate.

According to This report, Beijing tells little fibs about the Air Pollution Index all the time:

With the Olympics just seven months away, a US environmental expert has cast doubt on Beijing’s claims that it has significantly improved the number of its “blue sky days”.

He has accused city authorities of cheating by adopting easier targets and using monitoring stations in less polluted areas.

Steven Andrews, a Washington-based environmental consultant, said that from 1998 to 2006, Beijing’s Air Pollution Index was compiled from data from seven monitoring stations in the city centre. In 2006 the city dropped two monitoring stations from its pollution calculations — and added data from three monitoring stations in less polluted areas.

Beijing has a blue sky day when its index (on a scale of one to 500) is 100 or less. Mr Andrews recalculated Beijing’s pollution levels in 2006 and 2007 using data from the original seven monitoring stations. In Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal Asian edition, Mr Andrews said his findings contradicted Beijing’s blue sky record. He claimed authorities overestimated it by 15% in 2006 and 22% last year.

Mr Andrews also noted that a disproportionate number of borderline blue sky days were now interpreted as meeting national air quality standards, casting “grave doubt on China’s reported five straight years of continuous air quality improvement”. In 2001, about half of these borderline days were reported as blue sky days, but by 2006, 98% were deemed blue sky days. “In 2006, of the 84 major cities in China reported by the State Environmental Protection Agency, Beijing had the fewest number of days attaining the national air quality standard — and in 2007 the air quality was even worse,” Mr Andrews reported.

But even if SEPA is telling the truth today, and Shanghai has an API of 119, what does that mean?

SEPA says that an API of 119 is “slightly polluted”, and that “The symptom of the susceptible is aggravated slightly, while the healthy people will appear stimulate symptom”, whatever the hell that means. SEPA also advise that “The cardiac and respiratory system patients should reduce strength draining and outdoor activities”. Lovely.

An API of 119, SEPA notes, only narrowly misses the target for a ‘blue sky day’. Here is a photo I have just taken, looking out from a friend’s apartment in downtown Shanghai:

That murky haze is not a gentle mist. And if that is almost a ‘blue sky day’, then what the hell was it like last year on April 2nd, when even SEPA admitted to an API of 500!

Of course, it isn’t all bad news – SEPA Minister Zhou Shengxian said in a statement late last year that:

“…the first three quarters of this year witnessed the first ever “double fall” of the total discharge volume of two major pollutants nationwide… Minister Zhou noted that, starting from this year, various localities and departments have seriously implemented the deployment of the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council and further increased the efforts in pollution reduction… Minister Zhou further pointed out that the SEPA has continuous strengthened efforts centred on the core task of pollution discharge reduction and that all the measures have gained prominent effect.”

Minister Zhou also noted that:

“…we must fully implement the scientific outlook on development, intensify our resolution, spend more efforts and take more effective measures to fully enhance the implementation of all the tasks defined in the Comprehensive Work Plan on Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction of the State Council in light of the spirit of the 17th National Congress of the CPC.”

Yes, Minister.

3 Responses to “Relax. Take A Deep Breath.”

  1. Peter said

    According to Imagethief something is rotten in China. That may “clear up things”.


  2. Mate, I hope you are not complaining about the only thing that is for free in this shithole. Limitless pollution. Choose your own colour. I am sure there are neigbourhoods which have the same poisonous clouds in blue.

  3. Josh said

    Qingdao, the gem of the Shandong peninsula, just had a 143 and we couldn’t let our kids play outside. One World, One Dream! Cheers.

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