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A month before the Olympics, Beijing still failing air-quality test

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AFP PHOTO/Peter Parks/NEWSCOM

(Read caption) The Olympic Stadium known as the 'Bird's Nest is barely visible through a thick haze in Beijing on June 25, 2008.

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A month before athletes from around the world will gather in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics, the BBC has found that the city still fails to meet international air-quality standards set by the World Health Organization.

Using a hand-held device that detects concentrations of PM10 (particulates of 10 micrometers or less), BBC reporter James Reynolds found that Beijing failed the WHO standards six days out of seven. On one of these days, the pollution reading was seven times WHO's recommended guideline.

According to a blog post by Mr. Reynolds, WHO's air-quality guideline for PM10 is a maximum of 50 micrograms/cubic meter. Here are Reynold's daily readings, taken from a fixed point in central Beijing

01/07/08 : 121 micrograms/cubic meter
02/07/08 : 172
03/07/08 : 122
04/07/08 : 351
05/07/08 : 112
06/07/08 : 27
07/07/08 : 242

By contrast, the BBC's readings taken in London fell within WHO's guidelines.

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