Officials in Beijing have completed a network of 35 new air monitoring stations, according to a report from the Associated Press. The move comes after the U.S. embassy there began publishing hourly smog readings collected from an automated rooftop monitoring station via the twitter account @BeijingAir.
The newly installed stations will collect and report data on small particulates known as PM2.5 that appear to result from the burning of fuels in vehicles and power plants. Readings of PM2.5 are thought to be more useful for judging air quality because the particles are small enough – 2.5 micrometers in diameter – to collect in human lungs and blood.
The Chinese public pressured its government to publish more useful data after readings shared by the U.S. embassy went against official Chinese ones which said air quality was good in Beijing. Chinese officials asked in June for all unofficial readings to stop, saying other countries shouldn’t be involved in China’s domestic affairs.
The air monitoring stations have been installed in Central Beijing, its suburbs and many tourist areas, including Tienanmen Square and the Temple of Heaven. After a three-month trial, Beijing’s environmental protection department is expected to formally replace measures of larger particulates with PM2.5 readings in determining the city’s air quality.
Image: Smog over Beijing’s Forbidden City (Credit: Brian Jeffery Beggerly, via Flickr)