NY Times interactive site: How world’s worst PM 2.5 pollution compares to your local air.

January 27, 2020

In December, 2019 the New York Times published an interactive Web site allowing users to compare the worst levels for 2019 PM 2.5 pollution where they live to those of the world’s most polluted cities.  From the Bay Area to New Delhi, users can see how the world’s worst air pollution compared with their local air in 2019.

Click image to enlarge view.

For each selected city the site uses floating particles on the page to depict microscopic particulate pollution called PM 2.5. Each page shows particle levels for four criteria:

  • First, the site shows the number of particles that represents the upper limit for “good” air quality as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – 12 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) over 24 hours.
  • Second, the site shows number of particles per cubic meter during the highest hour on the worst air quality day of 2019 for the city selected. For MIRATECH, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the number was 44 µg/m3 or about four times as many particles as the upper limit for good air quality. The EPA labels this level as unhealthy for sensitive groups.
  • Third, the site shows the level of pollution in the air in California last year, when a thick blanket of smoke from the Camp Fire descended across the San Francisco Bay Area. Particulate pollution hit nearly 200 µg/m3, well within EPA’s “very unhealthy” range when people are advised to limit outdoor activity.
  • But that spike pales in comparison with the fourth and final comparison – the recent air quality crisis in northern India: On the most polluted day in November fine particulate levels in New Delhi reached over 900 µg/m3, blowing past the E.P.A.’s definition of “hazardous” air (which maxes out at 500) and into extreme territory.

Outdoor particulate pollution (PM 2.5) was responsible for an estimated 4.2 million deaths worldwide in 2015 with a majority concentrated in east and south Asia. Millions more fell ill from breathing dirty air.

This fine pollution mainly comes from burning things: Coal in power plants, gasoline in cars, chemicals in industrial processes, or woody materials and whatever else ignites during wildfires. The particles are too small for the eye to see — each about 35 times smaller than a fine grain of beach sand – but in high concentrations they cast a haze in the sky. And, when breathed in, they wreak havoc on human health.

What this means to you
Outdoor particulate pollution (PM 2.5) was responsible for an estimated 4.2 million deaths worldwide in 2015 with a majority concentrated in east and south Asia. Millions more fell ill from breathing dirty air.

MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for stationary engine particulate matter control.