Clearing the Air: The Skinny on Air Pollution in Hangzhou

Air Pollution in Hangzhou
We don’t need to worry too much about air pollution here in Hangzhou; it’s a serious problem in “dongbei”, Beijing and Shanghai.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that were actually true! Unfortunately, it isn’t. Air pollution is a serious problem here in Hangzhou. In fact, most studies consistently rank Hangzhou as one of the top cities in the country for poor air quality. Not quite the distinction we’d like to be known for. According to one study, Hangzhou came in at number 24, just one spot below Shanghai, the 23rd most polluted city in China.[iii] With over 40 cities with a population of over one million people, our position on the most polluted cities in China list is startlingly high.

When looking at the annual average PM 2.5 level (micrograms per cubic meter) intake, Hangzhou citizens are breathing in about 66.1μg/m3, or about 2.5 times the WHO standards for ambient air quality of 25 μg/m3 24-hour mean.[iv] To give it some perspective, the average annual mean in Paris in 2008 for PM 2.5 was only 22.9 μg/m3. In March of 2015, when Parisians were in an uproar over the quality of their air, the peak PM 10 levels were 120μg/m3.[v] During late December 2015, when Iran shut down its football league because of air pollution, the AQI was 132. At the time of writing this article on a very average Sunday, January 17th, the AQI in Hangzhou as reported by was somewhere between 104-150, with a strong possibility of reaching over 200. That is a pretty standard day in Hangzhou.[vi] Bottom line, Hangzhou’s air is nowhere near as clean as most people believe it to be.



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