MyHealthBeijing is a new blog by Dr. Richard Saint Cyr, an American family medicine physician living and working in Beijing.
Check out his latest blog on air pollution, well worth reading.
First, subjectively and objectively, the air is definitely better than it was compared to a year ago. We’ve had a lot of clear days this year! The government stats agree; “blue air days” with a PM10 rating in their safe range under 100 are the best in over 10 years. But let’s talk about how relevant that really is. First, the government uses a “blue air” pollution index using an air particulate size of 10 picometers (PM10). That’s a tiny particle, but one issue is that this PM10 is not what most countries use as a proper indicator of air pollution, using a smaller size of 2.5 picometers. Why? Because this size is more easily inhaled deeper into the lungs and therefore probably causes more damage, so is a more accurate barometer of health risks. Also, the government cutoff of under 100 as a “blue sky day” still would count in many other countries as unhealthy. There’s a general consensus that, while no number is a safe number, a PM10 over 15 starts to have health effects. Therefore, saying you have a “blue sky day” with a level still in the 90s would be falsely reassuring.
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