Olympic Smog Secrets

Olympic Smog Secrets

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) medical commission receives daily air pollution readings from the 27 monitoring stations of the The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. That doesn’t mean they will share these with the public, says Amy Shipley of the Washington Post.

The Beijing authorities do post readings of three of the five main Air Quality Index (AQI) parameters on a web site. A NASA scientist we spoke with in June said he believed these readings were taken “in the middle of the night,” when AQI is generally better. Much of the fine particulates in the Beijing air consist of mineral dust prevailing winds carry from the Gobi desert and western plains, not products of factory smokestacks and vehicle exhaust. 

Despite jingoistic NBC telecasts, Olympic events are contests between individual athletes, and medical reactons of individuals to airborne chemical and particulate pollution differ. In general, athletes in endurance sports are most effected, and even swimmers have complained about Beijing air quality.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) normally links to an AQI map of China. Today (Saturday, August 16th) the map is out for maintenance “until 4PM ET.” It is now 7 PM, and the China map has not been restored. 

Image by (wheeze) Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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