Real-Time Pollution Data is Coming! … to Shanghai

Thanks go to Vance from livefrombeijing for this heads up; China will soon finally be getting official real-time pollution monitoring! Unfortunately for us Beijingers, it will be in Shanghai. It seems that the U.S. EPA has started an AIRNow-International campaign to assist other countries in setting up real-time monitors. Shanghai is the first test city, mostly due to the Expo opportunity. Here’s a bit from their article:

Providing people with timely air quality information and educating them about the links between pollution sources, air quality, and health, can lead to a healthier and better-informed society. The ability to provide real-time data and air quality information and forecasts is critical to protecting public health. For many individuals—children, outdoor workers, and those who suffer from respiratory problems or cardiac conditions—knowing the quality of the air they breathe affects the quality of their lives and how they plan their daily activities. EPA’s AIRNow program has fulfilled this need for the past decade in the United States.

Developing countries are installing air quality monitoring networks and beginning to forecast air pollution levels to provide information to government officials and citizens. Effectively communicating information, educating the public about air quality conditions, and exchanging data with other organizations and systems will be critical next steps.

I think this is terrific news. In Beijing, of course, we are lucky to have an “unofficial” real-time monitor from the US Embassy station; but clearly the impact of all 20-something local pollution monitors providing hourly real-time data for all neighborhoods will be an enormous benefit to everyone. I’ve stressed many times that real-time data is crucial for people to make safe choices for outdoor activity, especially with schools needing to set up air pollution action plans by using the US Embassy data.

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