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Eastday-US consulate to release PM2.5 air-quality readings

US consulate to release PM2.5 air-quality readings 2012-05-12 09:48

THE US consulate in Shanghai has installed an air-quality monitor to measure PM2.5, or particulates less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, to indicate the air quality in the area near its office on Huaihai Road M.

“The monitor is an unofficial resource and for the health of the consulate community, and citywide analysis of air quality cannot be done using readings from a single machine,” the consulate said yesterday on its website.

The consulate said the measure is in line with the US Embassy’s practice of making air-quality data available to the American community in Beijing.

The monitoring machine is installed in the consulate’s offices and hourly readings will be available on the consulate’s official Twitter account.

“We have installed a PM2.5 air-quality monitor, and we are running some tests. Once those tests are finished, we will provide more details,” Wylita Bell, information officer of the consulate, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

The consulate will use a US formula to convert PM 2.5 readings into an air-quality index and set six health-related levels from “good” to “hazardous.”

The index is different from the Air Pollution Index used in China that sets five levels from “excellent” to “seriously polluted.”

PM2.5 can affect air quality and visibility and pose major health risks, as the tiny particles are small enough to lodge deep in the lungs and enter the bloodstream, causing premature death and chronic diseases.

“The data from the consulate will be able to indicate the air quality of the limited area around the consulate,” said Wang Qian, a forecaster of the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center.

The center began publicizing data on two local spots in Putuo District and Zhangjiang in the Pudong New Area in March.

Wang said the data from the center will be similar to that from the consulate but the US standards will be tougher than the current standards of China.

China’s acceptable daily limit for PM2.5 is 75 micrograms per cubic meter, compared with about 25 in the US. That means when the official data of Shanghai’s air-monitoring watchdog shows the city’s air condition is “good,” the US standard might show “unhealthy.”

The data from the center, which now uses mainly the larger PM10 particulates, showed the city’s air quality was “good” yesterday. With a strong wind from the southeast sweeping the city, the air quality will remain good in the next few days, Wang said.

“It is a good thing for the consulate to start monitoring the PM2.5, because it provides reference data for the city’s monitoring center,” said Zhuang Guoshun, environmental professor at Fudan University.

Shanghai has been putting monitoring equipment at more sites to add to the previous 24 local spots to monitor PM2.5 and is ready to release readings of the fine particle pollution in June.

The city is one of the first chosen to carry out PM2.5 and ozone monitoring in a program to go nationwide by 2016.

The new air-quality standards passed in February include indices for the concentration of PM2.5 in response to public pressure over pollution and the lack of thorough information about air quality.

Source:Shanghai Daily

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