News of high levels of air pollution in China are nothing new, but recent reports have startled many.
WHO guidelines say average concentrations of the tiniest pollution particles - called PM2.5 - should be no more than 25 microgrammes per cubic metre. Air is unhealthy above 100 microgrammes and at 300, all children and elderly people should remain indoors.
Official Beijing city readings on Saturday [12th January 2013] suggested pollution levels of over 400. An unofficial reading from a monitor at the US embassy recorded levels of over 800.
As mentioned above, United States Embassies in China run twitter accounts which tweet the current levels of air pollution in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. Apparently the authorities have threatened to shut them down on multiple occasions but not yet followed through.
I think these twitter accounts are a great idea but they have one problem: it's rather difficult to digest the information (points on the Air Quality Index) in tweet form. Twitter does a great job at getting the information out there, but to properly consume it, you really need a graph. So, one evening I decided to hack this page together.
The graph will update hourly, just as the twitter feeds do.
Unfortunately, twitter has a limit on how far back developers can go when downloading tweets from an account. This means I've only been able to grab ~3400 tweets from each twitter account — even though the BeijingAir account, for example, has tweeted over 36,000 tweets.
So, if anyone out there — Embassy worker, twitter dev, whoever — is able to provide me with all the tweets these accounts have tweeted, please email me!
If you would like to contact me, you can get my email address here.