Beijing’s January move to provide hourly readings of fine air particles, also known as PM2.5, has garnered significant attention around the world as well as from its own citizenry. The announcements are certainly a step in the right direction, indicating greater public and official awareness of China’s air pollution problems. However, the PM2.5 standards recently released by the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection will not be implemented nationwide until 2016, and hourly readings at present are only available for Beijing. Shanghai PM2.5 levels will be officially reported starting in June this year, according to Chinese media.
What Is PM2.5?
PM2.5 refers to the size of airborne particles – 2.5 microns or less in diameter – that are more damaging to our lungs and generally refers to the level of these particles. Key sources of these fine particulates are coal burning, industrial emissions, seasonal crop burning, vehicle emissions, and even fireworks. Shanghai PM2.5 levels are known to be two to four times higher than US EPA healthy air standards. Although official Shanghai air quality reports presently only provide PM10 air particle levels and not the more dangerous PM2.5 levels, all of our tests include an indoor PM2.5 reading and recommendations to minimize indoor air pollution.
Reduce Your Exposure
With increased environmental monitoring comes more awareness: What can you do to reduce your exposure to indoor air pollutants?
- Avoid or limit outdoor activity when particulate levels peak, typically mid-morning (8AM-10AM) and late night (10PM-1AM).
- Ventilate several times a day for 20-30 minutes. Don’t leave windows open permanently, and avoid ventilating when particulate levels peak.
- Remove your shoes at the door and use doormats. Studies indicate 70% higher particulate levels in homes where outdoor shoes are worn.
- Use HEPA vacuums to remove dust that comes into your house.
- Consider HEPA air filters for your indoor environment. Ask us — we provide independent expert advice.
- Spread the word. Make sure your family and friends are aware of steps they can take to reduce their exposure to air pollution, both indoors and out.