Anti-pollution measures, 5 days after
Friday, 25 July 2008, Written by Julien   
The new anti-pollution measures for Olympics started last Sunday. As you might already know, the main measures are:
  • Reduction of traffic: cars with odd plates are allowed on odd days, cars with even plates on even days, old and very polluting cars have been taken away from roads,
  • Reduction of industrial emissions: heavy polluting industries have to stop during Olympics, others should reduce their emissions by at least 30%,
  • Freeze of construction sites to reduce dust and trucks...

As pollution is generated by human activity, if human activity is reduced dramatically, air pollution should rapidly fade off. However, since 3 days the pollution in Beijing is quite visible: a white smog is covering the city.

Smog come from three main factors: car emissions (nitrogen oxides ), volatile organic compounds and sun. Those three factors react with oxygen to produce ozone and particles . Ozone is a risk for athletes as it can aggravate or reveal asthma and reduce lung capacity by up to 20%. It is maybe not a health hazard, but athletes might find it harder to break records.

One of the reasons for such bad air quality is the really light wind and the absence of rain. There has been no occasion for pollutants that were already in the air to be flushed away. Such weather conditions should last for at least 3 more days and we could  keep the same kind of pollution a bit longer.

All we have to hope is a heavy rain with strong winds to clear the skies in time for Olympics!

fred wrote : funny to see
that a lot of (Chinese) newspapers claim that the sky is blue and the air is better now in Beijing. I personnaly have only notice less cars, and less space for cars with this special "Olympic" lane reserved for I'm not sure who....

Hopefully all these hassles will be useful.
xuedi wrote : interesting information
nice, that you clear up how the Beijing smog is created, the only answer of Beijing people is: "ohh, thats just the natural Beijing frog" ^^
Chris D wrote :
Yeah, I saw a great photo of beijing's sky int he xizhimen area on the China Daily site a few days ago - beautiful blue sky, etc. B.S.

Yes, the olympic lane is stupid. For traffic's sake, it make the odd/even car ban useless.
Lee W wrote : beijingairquality website
It looks like the Government's own pollution monitoring website has been restricted. If you go to you now need a username and password to access it.

Its amazing how much better things look when you close your eyes.
Asia Society wrote : "blue sky days" photo diary
Check out the new project on called "Clearing the Air: China's Environmental Challenge" A great video provides an overview of the problem and they have a photographer who has been shooting a photo out window every day for more than one year. Very cool!
Julien wrote :
Thanks for the link. Very interesting video!
cream of sum-yun-guy wrote :
Less banned cars and trucks and constrution means less energy used.
So Oil consumption should be much lower leading to lower oil and gas prices.
for a while.
fireworks wrote : stop frighten people...
... with mixed up information: smog in Beijing is not made of OZONE, simply because most of the NOx and organic precursor gases like VOCs preferentially condense onto fine particles before reacting with sun. Actually, ozone concentrations in BJ are pretty low (by 20 to 60%) compared to what athletes met in Athens. There would be more to correct in your blog for instance regarding the toxicity of particles in BJ knowing their size distribution and composition, and consequently on the relevance of any filtering system to reduce this toxicity. Please refer to scientific journals and add real expertise to your Wikipedia sources before making assertions about the specific Beijing situation. Unless your goal is only commercial, which eventually sounds to be the case.
Julien wrote : re fireworks
Thank you fireworks for your comment but we do use scientific data for our articles! However, the aim of this blog is to explain pollution in simple words for everyone. Regarding the points you put forward, regarding ozone and PM2.5, I suggest you have a look at this study that clearly states that PM and Ozone could be an issue for Olympics: Study.
Julien wrote : re fireworks (continued)
Moreover, we sell masks that filters out 80% all particles down to 0.6Ám. Check this for more details.
Despite all the information I already gathered I would be happy to learn from you! If you have any other data you are welcome to contribute respectfully.
kirra wrote :
Among lots of bbc tv programs ( ) I have watched one dedicated to the problem of pollution in China. The main message of the story is that after the Olympics the pollution in Beijin even overcame previous levels. What to do now is the question.
Soft Sun wrote : how?
kirra, how can i download this torrent. Is it need a special software?
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