Sometimes it seems like it’s all one can watch these days in Beijing. The following from Danwei.org:
You can see SEPA’s figures for December 12. Note that while Beijing air gets a 500, the highest figure for another city is 212, measured in Shijiazhuang, a Hebei city close to Beijing.
The SEPA chart says that the major pollutant is ‘inhalable particles’ (可吸入颗粒物). It is not clear if that includes dust as opposed to industrial pollutants.
Can that be right? Personally, I’m not in Beijing, so I’m not qualified to say, but please write in with your own assessment if you were yesterday. What was it? Coal particles? Car exhaust? Premature dust storm?
Anyway, the SEPA site is interesting, as it lets you search pollution levels (measured on an index of 0 to 500) of quite a few Chinese cities over periods of time or on specific dates. After spiking on Monday (256) and Tuesday, Beijing’s air quality returned to a breathable 88 today. A search for levels in the capital during the two and a half weeks following August 8 this year (the approximate dates for the 2008 Olympics) found them mostly around the low 100s and upper double digits. Beijing better hope that pattern holds.