Wednesday, February 11, 2009

evidence of pollution spike from mandarin oriental fire

I posted yesterday that the API of 307 would be classified by the US EPA as hazardous, and I wondered if it was related to the Mandarin Oriental fire. Today, both Xinhua and China Daily mentioned yesterday's highest grade pollution amid stories about the fire. China Daily even hinted that human health impacts from the pollution spike should be counted in the total cost of the fire (though to be fair I'm not exactly sure what they mean by "sphere"):
The total cost of the disaster has not been calculated, the fire department said, but the environmental bureau in the capital recorded a maximum grade for air pollution due to Monday's fireworks sphere.
Also today, we have a new data point implicating the fire as the key cause of yesterday's asphyxiating pollution. Take a look at MEP's graph of the last 30 days of API data:

We've seen some dramatically rapid air quality changes in the past here in Beijing, but I can't remember ever seeing a spike like this that could be directly tied to a single event.

Lastly, I think it is interesting to note in the above graph that there is a slight rise, but no dramatic spike, in pollution just after Chinese New Year's Eve (the impact of which would have shown up in the January 26th data point), despite the fact that the sky that night looked like this:

Image in graph:
Fireworks image:'s The Big Picture

Update 3/11/09
I know this happened a month ago, but I feel I should note that a commenter below pointed out that the Beijing EPB issued an explanation for the 307 API pollution spike. The explanation did not reference the fire, only the fireworks:





Rough translation:
Setting Off Fireworks Brings This Year's First Heavy Pollution Day

The dual impact of unfavorable meteorological conditions and the setting off of fireworks for the Lantern Festival led to Beijing's first severe pollution day this year. The air quality grade was 5, heavily polluted.

According to data from the environmental monitoring center, due to low wind and stable atmosphere, the atmosphere dispersion conditions changed to unfavorable. During the day of the 9th, the air quality was lightly polluted, but starting from 7pm, due to the Lantern Festival fireworks, pollution increased quickly and remained high. From 7pm to 4am, the PM10 concentration was above 400 ug/m3; it was highest at 9pm, reaching 810 ug/m3. By 5am, the concentration was 399 ug/m3, and began to drop after that. But because of calm winds and unfavorable meteorological conditions, the drop in pollution concentration was slow.

Through the continuous implementation of air pollution control policies, this city has experienced fewer and fewer grade 5 pollution days. The last grade 5 pollution day was last year on 5/29.


Dotty said...

hi,Vance, Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau have already given an explantion about the 307 on their website.

Anonymous said...

I guess "sphere" means ambient condition/environment.

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