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Air quality in Beijing is 'crazy bad,' but China still beats US in green investment

The US Embassy in Beijing tweets hourly air quality reports. While the Twitter feed reads 'crazy bad' and 'beyond index,' China far surpasses the US in its green investment efforts. China's air pollution won't change overnight, but it's on the right track. Congress, take note.

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The US Embassy in Beijing monitors air quality hourly and issues reports on BeijingAir Twitter feed. One Friday late last month, (Nov. 19) the air in Beijing was so polluted, so smoggy, that the tweet had no established term to describe it. So, it simply reported that the air was “crazy bad.” I suspect we all pretty much get the idea, but let me try to be a little more precise about what “crazy bad” means.

On an air quality index of 0 to 500 (the AQI), “crazy bad” is off-the-charts, beyond the 500 upper limit. The number is a measure of ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide in the air. According to the AQI, a score of zero to 50 represents good air quality, 51 to 100 means moderate air quality, and 101 to 150 is unhealthy for sensitive groups. A score between 301 to 500 means “don’t even think of breathing it if possible,” or in more formal AQI terms: “Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.”

Another indicator of just how crazy bad “crazy bad” is: a score of over 500 contains more than 20 times the level of particulate matter deemed safe by the World Health Organization .

Major air pollutants

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