Shanghai air pollution reaches record levels – how to track air quality around the world

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Pollution in the southern Chinese city of Shanghai has reached record levels, pushing air quality levels to ‘severe' or ‘hazardous,' the highest level on the Air Quality Index Scale. Amidst long-standing concerns over pollution, governmental websites around the world allow members of the public to monitor air quality in their region.

Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily reports that the air quality in the city over Tuesday, May 3 and Wednesday, May 4 was the "worst air quality to date."

The US embassy in Beijing caused controversy last year when on its Twitter feed of hourly air quality ( @beijingair) the automated system reported that air quality in Beijing was "crazy bad" after air pollution levels went off the scale.

High levels of air pollution are not limited to China; on April 22 the British government issued the first smog warning in two years due to high levels of pollutants over the UK, and recent reports suggest air pollution in the US could be causing asthma.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) measures pollutants in the air; the index is also sometimes called the Air Pollution Index (API)  - though these two indices measure slightly separate pollutants they are often used interchangeably.

Though the AQI scale can vary between different countries, the scale of 0-100, as used in North America, is the most commonly adopted.

The scale ranks the air quality from Good (0-50), Moderate (51-100), Unhealthy for sensitive groups (101-150), Unhealthy (151-200), Very unhealthy (201-300) to Hazardous' (301-500). On May 4 Shanghai's air quality was rated 500.

Members of the public can monitor the daily air quality in their area with the links below:

North America- http://www.airnow.gov/
Europe - http://www.airqualitynow.eu/
China - http://www.vecc-mep.org.cn/eng/

A full list of links to other international sites is available via the North American site at: http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=topics.world

 

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