China is notorious for poor air quality. About two years ago world newspapers wrote about political fireworks (Get it? Fireworks and China? No? Okay, blog on that later.) set off by State Department Mission to China into the smog filled Chinese skies. China, too, had a system to determine air quality, but the readings differed in substances monitored, and frequency. Air quality rumors still abound, but the political differences were worked out long before the Maguires arrived in Shanghai.
The State AQI is located somewhere on the US Consulate compound. This is public knowledge, but I have no idea where the monitor is and don’t really care. On ground level, after I have stopped, dropped, and rolled, I find the air to be fresh and clean there as it is filtered by a park-like abundance of trees, plants and flowers. Still, the shafts of sunlight highlight millions of particles floating in air and the air I breathe tastes gritty.
The air in the outlying neighborhoods appears to be worse than at the Consulate. This is not proven true, but completely antidotal. I don’t electronically check the air quality every day. When I walk the children to school in the morning we observe the buildings in the distance. How distinct are the outlines? What color is the sky? We can usually guess within 30 PPM. This may seem like a wide margin of error, but we are really talking about the difference between unhealthy and unhealthy. See below.
A quick search of Google gives several websites and apps. More often than not, the top hits are based on the US Mission to China readings. The following sites officially explain the readings and offer monitors.
I wrote this rather than hashing today. The air quality was over 300 in the morning. It was the third day in a row of Very Unhealthy or Hazardous readings. Not a great day to go on a run. Definitely not a great day to force the kids to run.
U.S. Consulate Shanghai Air Quality Monitor
Comprehensive description of air quality and stages. The reading is currently 188, unhealthy.
Consular General Shagnhai Twitter Feed
Hourly updates. The reading is currently 181.
Real-time Air Quality Reporting System: Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Group
Consolidating Chinese and Ameircan readings, this site has the best visual representation of air quality. Today the reading is 193 and there is a cartoon Chinese girl crying.
Health and Safety in Shanghai
Dedicated to educating Shanghai residents. This site is longer, but more comprehensive and better funded than mine.
Get the app at any of your favorite app stores.