From the graph below, based on the official MEP numbers, we can see that the traffic restrictions have not been very successful in Beijing; the air pollution has only increased since the restrictions started on 20 July, and for the last 4 days has been above the 100 level which Beijing regards as the acceptable limit (’blue sky day’, well above WHO guidelines as mentioned previously). I have also added the API for Tianjin (150km to the East) and Shijiazhuang (300km to the South), which show roughly the same trends over the last weeks, and Beijing has not been able to do better than them, despite the restrictions. On 20 July the 3 cities started from similar values, but for the last 4 days Beijing has been worse than its neighbours.
Google Weather shows it is currently raining in Beijing ; well i wished it was, but it is not (Sunday evening 27 July 9pm local time). Also in their forecast the rains will start on Tuesday- our Chinese mobile phone says it will rain tomorrow. Let’s see.
This weekend the air was horrible and it would not surprise me if independent measurements would show higher values than reported. If you will be visiting the Games and stay close to the sport venues, you may wonder where all that pollution comes from because they plan to make the central grounds ‘emission free’ with about 500 special vehicles (electric, hybrid, fuell cell). Wouldn’t it be nice to have more of those everywhere, all the time?
The Wall Street Journal has been looking at Beijing air pollution for a while, and now they have a Beijing Air Quality Widget on their site, click on the Detailed View for a very fancy look into the API data since 2005 (unfortunately their latest value is stuck at 25 July it seems), and as one comment remarks, it would be helpful to put the current measurement for New York up there to compare for example. CNN has a video report on Beijing air dated 21 July.