Friday, January 11, 2008

If I Were A World-Class/Olympic Athlete, I'd Skip The Beijing Olympiad

I cannot imagine competing in the pollution of Beijing. It would almost necessarily entail developing asthma, and might well curtail a promising career by inflicting permanent damage on the lungs. Via TruthOut.Org:
Consultant Questions Beijing's Claim of Cleaner Air
By Jim Yardley
The New York Times, Thursday 10 January 2008
Beijing - A new study has cast doubts about whether air quality has truly improved in Beijing and has concluded that "irregularities" in the city's system of measuring air pollution have enabled the city to meet environmental targets linked to the coming Olympic Games.

The study, written by an American environmental consultant, found flaws in Beijing's "Blue Sky" system of air quality monitoring stations and noted that the city changed its method for measuring pollution in 2006. In particular, officials stopped including readings from two stations in polluted areas and began using readings in three other stations in less polluted locales.

Without this switch, Beijing would have fallen far short of its goals in 2006 and 2007 for the number of days that met national air quality standards, according to the study. The study also found that a disproportionate number of days were rated just below the statistical break point that separates a polluted day from one that passes standards.

"Irregularities in the monitoring of air quality account for all reported improvements over the last nine years," said Steven Q. Andrews, the author of the study, in a telephone interview. Mr. Andrews published an op-ed article about his study on Wednesday in the Asian edition of The Wall Street Journal.

On Wednesday afternoon, Du Shaozhong, deputy director of Beijing's Environmental Protection Bureau, reviewed a faxed copy of the article but responded in broad terms rather than addressing any specific findings. He agreed that Beijing still needed to make progress in reducing air pollution but said the city's air had undeniably improved.

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