Big cities are often criticized for the pollution they give off to the air, which is fair. Sometimes I feel a little insulted when people criticize my city, Manhattan. It can't be the worst
. It's not. New numbers demonstrate the hazardous air quality of Beijing, and puts things in perspective.
The United States Embassy in Beijing has been tracking the Air Quality Index, standards set by the United States' EPA, for a few years. Two years ago, in a Tweet, they recorded that Beijing was at a "crazy high..." 500
As of Saturday, January 12, at 8 p.m., the number reached an all time, off the charts record of 755.
The embassy alerts the public of these numbers using their @BeijingAir Twitter feed
- a method that Beijing officials have criticized and have tried to remove for years.
According to the EPA, air qualities between 301 and 500 are considered to be "hazardous." Numbers off the index are extremely unsafe for residents. Factories operating in neighboring province consist of more than 20 million, but there's no definite answer to why the index went so off the charts. To put things in perspective, at the same time of Beijing's 755 that weekend, New York City was a 19.
Beijing residents are describing the air quality as terrifying and post-apocalyptic. They are searching the stores for face masks and air purifiers and closing their windows and doors to their homes.
Beijing schools kept children indoors and hospitals saw a spike in respiratory cases following this weekend.What do you think the embassy is going to do? How can we prevent this from happening to our cities? What do you think are going to be the health risks of this?