“A Little Polluted” -Shanghai Smog

The Shanghai Daily, a local newspaper, reported Shanghai weather January 25th as …a little polluted with temperatures reaching as high as 17c Saturday. I guess this is a new term to describe weather. It certainly has become part of my daily routine, check the weather and AQI before heading outside. Living in Shanghai over the last 5 years pollution has become more apparent. The first year we didn’t notice it much. The second year we found a few days uncomfortable and you could see it along the skyline. The third year we lived here levels became high where the sky looked an odd greenish grey. Being outside it irritated your eyes, nose and throat. Soon after our school started to report the levels to us and parents. If it is higher than 200 (pm2.5) children would be kept inside. The school also purchased air purifiers for the classrooms.

We started to see more bad air days and higher levels last year (2014). One day it reached a high well over 400, and some reports say closer to 500. Inside even with air purifiers at full speed a haze and acrid smelling air found its way into classrooms. This year we purchased an expensive air purifier for our apartment, despite us leaving in a few months. We decided our health was worth the expense.

The shot on the right shows a little blue sky…levels are around 200.

This weekend reports are saying Beijing, North of Shanghai (5 hours by speed train, few hours by plane) is unlivable due to the air quality. Beijing has always had the bad rap for air since it is in a valley and it is easier for the bad air to get trapped. Shanghai is now starting to see the problems Beijing has experienced, but without the same geography. The local government in Shanghai is trying to cut back on bad pollutants when winds are low and air quality indexes get high in hopes this will reduce the pollution levels in the city. Cleaner coal has been purchased, as coal is still a major producer of electricity here.

The shot of the right is zoomed in and you can just faintly make out the new Shanghai Tower.

My theory for bad air, around this time of year, is the holidays are soon approaching. Chinese New Year is the equivalent to our Christmas. Most businesses can shut for as long as 2 weeks, so workers can go home to celebrate with families. Shanghai has a large migrant community with people moving here to make larger wages or get work. My theory is there is an increase in production and manufacturing to make up for lost time. Is it possible to work over time, extra shifts and 24 hour rotations to stock pile products, so the world can keep on consuming? It may explain the sudden spike in higher levels. For example today at 8AM levels were low/normal for this time of year, around 140. The website I use to check classes that as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups”. By noon is was around 170, or Unhealthy. As I started to write this post it was 220, or Very Unhealthy. The latest update now pegs us at 337 or Hazardous. Our air cleaner is pumping hard and not able to keep “blue” showing clean air.

Screen Shot of AQI Jan. 25, 2015

Screen Shot of AQI Jan. 25, 2015

Of course we can say China has a problem, but so did north America 30-40 years ago. What changed? Most industry moved here. What isn’t made in China? Something to ponder….

Stay tuned…

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Categories: China, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on ““A Little Polluted” -Shanghai Smog

  1. Freda Goulet

    We so often take our clean air for granted…You will have learned to appreciate our clean air after five years in China.

  2. I have asthma and would never be able to got there, I’m glad you’re leaving soon!

    • Asthma suffers have a hard time here. I find it bothers my sinus mostly. It often turns into an infection, or nosebleed. Sometimes it leads to laryngitis! I even wear a mask and stay inside with air purifiers most of the time.

  3. Yikes CTB! It was so gloriously clear when we were in Shanghai I cannot believe how lucky we were. My photos show the most incredible blue sky and were crystal clear. Sounds like you’re making the right decision to move on after this school year ends!

    • Tina you came at the right time 🙂 Winter seems to be the worst here for dull skies. We splurged and had a stay along the river Saturday night and most pictures are hazy. Sunday it was misty rain, foggy and smoggy. 😦

  4. I can’t imagine living with so much pollution. I remember visiting Chiba a few years ago and being shocked by the pollution. I hope it gets better.

    • Me too! It is hard on the body and even inside with the air purifier on it made my throat scratchy. This morning the reading has dropped to 166 (unhealthy). The high point was over night with 419!

  5. Puts a bittersweet spin on leaving. Amazing. Stay well.

    • It is a big reason why we are leaving. Each year it is getting worse and longer stretches. Luckily this one was only bad for 1 day… we had a 6 day stretch once! Today it is lower than usual, so they have done something about it and seem to correct the high days, which is good.

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