Air pollution at 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was far worse than reported

June 20th, 2009 - 1:24 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 20 (ANI): A new research has indicated that athletes and spectators faced unprecedented air pollution at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, which was far worse than other recent Olympic Games, and was about 30 percent higher than has been reported by Chinese environmental experts.

The research was done before, during and after the 2008 Olympics by scientists from Oregon State University (OSU) and Peking University, in work funded by the National Science Foundation in the United States and the National Science Foundation of China.

“Considering the massive efforts by China to reduce air pollution in and around Beijing during the Olympics, this was the largest scale atmospheric pollution experiment ever conducted,” said Staci Simonich, an OSU associate professor of environmental and molecular toxicology.

“Despite all that, it was some evening rains and favorable shifts in the winds that provided the most relief from the pollution,” she added.

“This demonstrates how difficult it is to solve environmental problems on a short-term, local basis,” she explained.

According to the researchers, despite some favorable weather and the pollution control efforts, the end result was some of the most severe particulate pollution that Olympic athletes have dealt with in recent games.

The levels were about two to four times higher than that of Los Angeles on an average day.

In some of the first comparisons of these type ever made, scientists determined that particulate matter air pollution in the Beijing Olympics were about double the levels of recent games in Athens, Greece; triple those of Atlanta, Ga.; and 3.5 times higher than the games in Sydney, Australia.

However, the study also noted that, because of its control efforts, Beijing had the most significant decrease in particular air pollution compared to the other Olympic sites around the time of their games.

Despite these efforts, levels of coarse particular matter were higher than considered safe by the World Health Organization 81 percent of the time during the Beijing Olympics.

They reached unacceptable levels 100 percent of the time for the most dangerous particulate matter (smaller than 2.5 microns), which is more easily inhaled into the lungs and causes more serious health problems.

Levels of the smaller, most harmful particulate matter was also the least affected by government efforts to reduce pollution output, the study concluded.

The finding of levels of pollution higher than those announced previously by Chinese officials reflects a difference in measurement methodology, according to the researchers. (ANI)

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