Colour us excited — Shanghai will finally have two air quality readings instead of one! The US Consulate in Shanghai has followed the Embassy’s lead in installing an air quality monitor to measure PM 2.5 concentration as “an indicator of overall air quality in the area surrounding its Huai Hai Middle Road offices”. Hourly updates will be provided via Twitter (start following them here!).
The Consulate was quick to advise, however, via the announcement on its website that:
The monitor is an unofficial resource for the health of the Consulate community. Citywide analysis of air quality cannot be done using readings 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 particulates are of concern since they are small enough to get into the lungs and even the blood stream. For more information on PM 2.5, please visit http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/pm/pm25_index.html.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a formula to convert PM 2.5 readings into an air quality index (AQI) value than can help inform health-related decisions (see chart). 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 visit http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqibasics.aqi.
For those of you with an iPhone/iPad, you will want to download the China Air Pollution Index application which we expect will be updated soon to reflect the Shanghai readings.
The US Consulate has also provided this helpful key to understanding its Air Quality Index readings:
|Air Quality Index (AQI)||PM2.5 |
|Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
|People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.|
|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 |
|People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.|
|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.|