The air quality index in Beijing has soared over 500 as measured on instruments in the U.S. embassy, prompting staff to issue an alert today calling air quality “crazy bad.” The Chinese government’s official air quality reading was 312 because it measures large particulates only and ignores the tiny and dangerous dust particles that U.S. readings capture. Readings over 240 on U.S. instruments typically result in the cancellation and curtailment of outdoor activities.

Beijing’s poor air quality continues to erode with the onset of winter and increased coal burning by residents and businesses. At the same time, automobile traffic is increasing relentlessly with an estimated 1,200 new cars hitting the roads each day.

Diplomatic relations with China have pressured the U.S. embassy into calling today’s candid air quality assessment “incorrect” and promising to use revised language in any future alerts. Let’s hope they continue to publish the numbers no matter what adjectives they choose.

Photo by Andy Oakley.

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About The Author

Michael Hartung, editor of Healthy Travel Blog, serves as head of Product Development at HTH Worldwide. Mike is responsible for all product strategy and development for the company. Mike has over twenty years of successful product innovation to his credit. He has played a senior management role in three start-up companies and has built complex organizations in rapid growth environments. Prior to joining HTH in 2000, he served as President of U.S. Healthcare’s Workers Comp Advantage subsidiary, which he co-founded with Angelo Masciantonio. Mike has also served in senior roles at Aon Consulting, Vantage Health Partners and Managed Health Care Services. Mike earned an M.B.A. from New York University, an M.A. from Duke University and a B.A. from Carleton College.

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