Good Morning, Beijing!

Mmmm, Smells Like Factories and Construction Dust!

"Sun trying to fight its way out."

A perfect place to host thousands of athletes from around the world, and make them breathe really hard.

Picture yourself as a U.S. Olympian, flying to Beijing for the first time. You’ve seen the pictures, and heard the stories, about the air quality there. You’ve been issued masks by the U.S.O.C., to protect your lungs, but at your option. Would you then immediately apologize for wearing those masks to Beijing in order to not offend the host country? I’m not so sure.

But there is no risk to the athletes, we’ve been assured by the head of the I.O.C., who says “”We must make a distinction between fog and pollution.”

Fog? Hmmm. That’s not what this report says:

The Associated Press has been compiling its own pollution data since mid-July, recording snapshot readings of Beijing’s worst pollutant — tiny dust particles known as particulate matter 10.

The independent spot checks collected from the Olympic Green, the main sports thoroughfare, showed that, even though there are dramatic ups and downs, PM 10 concentrations were often much higher than what the World Health Organization considers healthy. On Friday, AP readings showed a PM 10 concentration of 373 micrograms per cubic meter — far above the WHO guidelines for healthy air of 50 micrograms per cubic meter.

It also informs us how “difficult and elusive a target clear skies can be”. Yeah, especially when you have few pollution controls, and your economy therefore dumps millions of tons of crap into the air every day. Maybe that has something to do with the air looking like the picture above.

Click the pic to see a bigger version, or here to see the gallery.

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