Beijing smog

With the rise of China's middle class comes a demand for improved quality of life. So its little wonder air pollution is an ongoing 'hot topic' in Mainland China and Hong Kong, and with it how exactly the government is monitoring air pollution. This week Jonathan Watts of the Guardian covered the recent inclusion of tiny particulate matter PM2.5 in the government's list of air quality indicators, a move sure to gain the approval of environmentalists.

Until now, [PM2.5's] absence from the national pollution index created an absurd discrepancy between official claims of "blue sky" conditions and the reality of air so putrid and murky it could be tasted. "At present, the public's feelings about air quality are different from the monitoring data," environment vice-minister Zhou Jian acknowledged during a speech at a recent forum. "To prevent haze, we will improve the air quality standards as soon as possible and include PM2.5."

For those living in China, we've compiled a list of real-time updated air pollution tracking sites, micro-blogs and apps. They'll help you closely monitor the skies (and know to stay indoors on those 'crazy bad' days):

Beijing

http://zx.bjmemc.com.cn/
Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center have updates in Chinese and have PM10 readings from across the city. Only one public PM2.5 station at the moment.

Twitter: @BeijingAir
From the US embassy in Beijing in Sanyuanqiao, reporting PM2.5 and ozone readings (only one station). Real-time hourly updates in English (and unofficial re-posting on Weibo.) Head to the US Government's AIRNow site for an explanation to their Air Quality Index.

Application: Beijing Air Quality
An apps designer has turned the US embassy's data into an application for your smartphone. In English and Chinese.

Shanghai

http://www.envir.gov.cn/Eng/Airep/index.asp
The Shanghai Environment Monitoring Center have daily updates in both English, and Chinese.

http://www.sepb.gov.cn/seicroot/english/index.jsp
The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau also have daily updates with specific data from different Shanghai districts. Also in Chinese.

Twitter: @CGShanghaiAir 
From the US embassy in Shanghai reporting on the air quality in the area surrounding its Huai Hai Middle Road offices. PM2.5 and ozone readings. Real-time hourly updates in English.

Guangzhou

Twitter: @Guangzhou_Air
From the US embassy in Shamian, Guangzhou, reporting PM2.5 levels hourly, in English.

Hong Kong

http://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/campaigns/air-pollution/work/
Greenpeace have published an application that compares air pollution data from all 14 of Hong Kong's monitoring stations to World Health Organization guidelines.

http://hedleyindex.sph.hku.hk/tracker.php
The University of Hong Kong also have an Air Quality Tracker, updated daily, in both English and Chinese. (via Clean Air Network)

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hong-kong-air-pollution/id504536152?ls=1&mt=8
The AirYouBreathe is an app that displays the current air quality in Hong Kong using a variety of different air pollution indexes from around the world, in an effort to produce a more accurate picture of the current air quality.

Across China

http://58.68.130.147/air/
From China's National Environmental Monitoring Center (CNEMC), covering 113 major Chinese cities, in Chinese. Click through the first three slides to reach the real-time, hourly updates. Read Angel Hsu's post for an analysis of this data. (via Vance Wagner)

http://y234.cn/?page_id=5121
From a Chinese graduate student in astronomy, covering Chinese capital cities, in Chinese. Has comparisons between Chinese government standards with those from the US/Canada.

East Asia

http://www.amfic.eu/bulletin/index.php
Air Quality Monitoring and Forecasting in China provides daily air quality bulletins as 'heat maps' for Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Hong Kong, Qingdao and Seoul, in English and Chinese. As well as a high-level map covering the entire East Asia region. The air quality indicators are separated into dedicated maps.

Have any others?

If you know of other apps, micro-blogs or sites to add to this list send them in via the comments section below!

Air pollution is a severe problem, costing China and Hong Kong billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and health expenses. The most basic solution for air pollution is to end its root causes: quit coal and move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with clean, renewable energy. The solutions to air pollution are straightforward and simple but they require government action: quit coal, establish clear, strict air quality standards, upgrade fuel grade standards and increase urban green spaces.

In order to achieve this Greenpeace are in Hong Kong pushing the government to update its Air Quality Objective and to adopt greater energy efficiency renewable energy standards. While in China we're campaigning against the biggest cause of air pollution – coal.