translations from beijing’s 2008 state of the environment report

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Beijing’s annual State of the Environment Report was released in June of this year. Even though it came out a few months ago, I haven’t written about it yet, so I want to post the link here along with some comments and translations of key figures.

2008年北京市环境状况公报 (Chinese only)
Past reports available here:

About half of the 31-page report is devoted to air quality, with primary focus on the measures taken to control air quality during the Olympics and Paralympics. But first I’d like to show the annual data, which is presented in the standard forms of trends of annual average concentrations of pollutants (decreasing) and numbers of blue sky days (increasing):

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Overall, the short conclusion on annual air quality is given as follows:

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Annual Air Quality
In 2008, there were 274 days at or above Grade II air quality, 74.9% of the year. This was 89 more days and 24% higher than in 2001. Atmospheric concentrations of SO2, CO, NO2, and PM10 were 0.036, 1.4, 0.049, and0.122 mg/m3, respectively, representing reductions of 43.8%, 46.2%, 30.9%, and 26.1%, respectively, from 2001. Concentrations of SO2, CO, and NO2 met the national standard. PM10 concentration exceeded the national standard by 22%.

According to current government monitoring and standards, PM10 is the biggest pollutant of concern presently in Beijing. In January of this year, I estimated 2008 annual PM10 at 0.123 mg/m3 (close enough to the actual reported figured of 0.122), noting that this is over six times higher than the WHO’s recommended ideal annual PM10 standard of 0.020 mg/m3.

As for the Olympics and Paralympics, Beijing’s State of the Environment Report presents individual graphs for Air Pollution Index for both periods, as if to prove that Beijing met its commitment to keep the API below 101 throughout the Games:

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Related posts: final day of temporary air quality measures, end of the games.

Pollution concentration data are also shown, along with comparative reductions to 2007:

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These numbers all support widespread claims that pollution during the Games was reduced by around 50% from 2007. Conclusion:

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Olympic Period Air Quality
Beijing’s air quality met the standard every day during the Olympics and Paralympics. The atmospheric concentrations of main pollutants were reduced by about 50% from last year. Daily concentrations of SO2, CO, and NO2 met world standards for developed cities, and the daily concentration of PM10 met the WHO Stage 3 guidelines, meeting Beijing’s promises by far.

I’ll be investigating that last sentence in a separate post.

Top image source: Page 1 of the report. All figures and tables copied from Beijing’s 2008 State of the Environment Report and then translated.

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