U.S. Consulate General Shanghai Launches Air Quality Monitor

Over the weekend, the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai launched its own air quality monitor with hourly updates via Twitter.

Here is the consulate’s statement on its website:

In line with the Embassy’s practice of making air quality data available to the American community in Beijing, the U.S. Consulate Shanghai has installed an air quality monitor to measure the concentration of particulates (PM 2.5) as an indicator of overall air quality in the area surrounding its Huai Hai Middle Road offices. 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.

The monitor’s measurements, expressed in the form of PM 2.5 concentration (micrograms per cubic meter, ug/m3) and corresponding AQI, are available on Twitter at http://twitter.com/cgshanghaiair.

Since its debut on May 15, all readings have been “unhealthy.” Which is not good but it could be worse, really.

WSJ’s China Real Time Report writes:

The “good” news for Shanghai residents: The air is worse elsewhere, namely in Beijing. No surprise there, as Beijing, a city far from the coast and subject to seasonal sand blasts from the Gobi Desert, is where the Embassy famously once designated the air as “crazy bad.”

The average PM2.5 concentration was roughly twice as bad in Beijing as it was in Shanghai over the first four periods during which the Shanghai consulate provided average readings. Between noon Sunday and midday Monday, Shanghai had average PM2.5 readings of 39 micrograms per cubic meter and an index of 107, which put it at unhealthy for sensitive groups. Beijing was plain unhealthy during that same period, averaging 77.3 micrograms per cubic meter and 158 on the index.

The consulate’s air monitor makes it the third USG monitor in China in addition to US Embassy Beijing and USCG Guangzhou.  They are all in Twitter:

http://twitter.com/cgshanghaiair.

http://twitter.com/#!/Guangzhou_Air

http://twitter.com/#!/beijingair

Here is the chart on the monitor readings:


Domani Spero

One response

  1. I’m actually impressed with this because it seems to serve a very simple and somewhat informative purpose for those in that area. But, then again, I do kinda have very low expectations from State Department’s use of twitter, thanks to one 21st century Rossputin.

    I’m trying to think of other things that could be tracked in a similar fashion on twitter. Perhaps hourly rate of Sporting Ladies for those times that Secret Service agents are in town? Tracking Rossputin’s travel expense reports? Hey, if I come up with a few more items perhaps I could get paid 180k a year as well for my advancement of social media! Ka-Ching! I’m a Sr Advisor for Innovation!