Trial release of real-time air pollution data in Beijing ignites concerns over reliability of official reports, says China-based analyst who first broke data manipulation story in 2008.
Real-time reporting of fine particulate pollution levels recently began at nearly all 35 monitoring stations around Beijing. Even monitoring stations near roadways – shut down before the Olympics to manufacture improvements in reported air quality – have been reopened, and with better equipment.
But, with air pollution levels again reaching hazardous levels, China Daily voiced the continuing frustrations with the government reporting in a news story headlined: ”Air monitoring system comes under fire”. While the article highlighted complaints about the government keeping the data secret and not allowing access to archived data, the real issue is what the new monitoring has already revealed.
The US embassy twitter reports of hazardous air pollution on October 8, 2012, in Beijing – viewed by tens of thousands of Chinese on their smartphones – were not surprising. What was shocking was that the trial reporting by the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center was also listing air quality as “severely polluted”. At the same time, however, the still official reporting by the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau based on coarse particulate was only “slight” air pollution.