Beijing Air Quality Index

pollution beijing living in beijing

What we call the Air Quality Index is basically an indicator of the air quality based on some pollutants in the air that have an impact on human health. These pollutants are inside our environment and are nitrogen dioxide and ozone. We can check the Air Quality index every day from all places around the world in order to be sure if the air you are breathing in your city is good or could be inside the non-healthy rate.

What is smog?

What we really called smog is no more than a mix of these air pollutants but dominated by ground level ozone with the presence sunlight. Smog is the main consequence of everything that causes pollution in a city: fuels of vehicles, factory boilers, toxic residues, evaporation of several liquids because of the main industries, the wrong process of used oil and similar.

Pollution in Beijing

From the top 20 most polluted cities in the world, we can find 15 cities in China but and Beijing also on the list. The capital of China is the fifth most polluted city in the country with most of the days with an unhealthy Air quality index. During summer Beijing increases the unhealthy Air quality index which can be also reduced with rains during the same period of the year. Winters are cold and dry but smog is always present during that time of the year.

The Air quality index rarely goes down more than 100 which would be a moderate level for our health. It is truth that a day with less smog is around 150-200 index which is unhealthy for all groups and not only sensitive people with asthma or lung problems. Up 300 in the Air quality scale, the air is hazardous which makes Beijing a dangerous city to live in if we talk about the air quality. Between 300 and 400 in the air quality scale is frequent to have in Beijing so health authorities recommend wearing breathing mask in order to avoid smog heavy days and those pollutants.

AQI table living in china blog

The weekend of the 14th of January 2013, Beijing suffered an unusual hazardous air quality index which was not even in the scale that goes up to 500. The pollution level registered that day was 997 which has the record of the highest air quality level registered ever. This situation makes Beijing be under the eye of the International health organization and has forced the Chinese government to take some new measures to drop the smog.

What measures can you take against hazardous Air Quality?

forbidden city with smog beijingIf you are living in Beijing maybe you will notice heavy air sometimes but after about two months, you will be used to polluted air and being outdoor is not going to be a major problem. Leaving during less than half a year in a polluted city like Beijing is unhealthy but if you do not suffer from respiratory problems it would not be a torture. Furthermore, it is important not to forget that living under bad air quality is dangerous after many years. Foreign people living in Beijing forget to wear a mask which is crucial during days with a hazardous index up to 300.


Having an Air purifier or more than one is an essential object at home if you leave in Beijing. For short stay it may not be strictly necessary but if you are going to stay at least one year in China, we recommend buying one. Some people suffer the dry weather of Beijing during the winter and an Air purifier always helps. It is totally up to you because maybe the clime does not affect you so drastic. At home it is a clever consideration to provide your rooms with air purifiers especially if someone in your family or friends smokes. Indoors we recommend opening the windows during less polluted days to have fresh air but after switch on the air purifier. Air purifiers companies in Beijing are for example, AQ Air and Blue Air wich provide high quality purifiers.


Living in Beijing can be irritating during high polluted days, especially during summer when the city is humid and temperatures go up to 35C. mask pollution beijingMasks are easy to find around the city in common shops and supermarket to wear them outside during polluted days but if you want to avoid real pollution, we recommend you to buy a good mask with filter. Those masks can be found in more specialized stores or on-line and cost around 300-400 RMB (40 €). Basic masks are very cheap and are sell in packets of 7 units to use one per day. These masks, similar to surgeon masks cost around 30 RMB per packet which is only 4 €. Some quality mask brands are for example: 3M and respro.


Living in the suburbs of Beijing in areas like Shunyi or Lido is a good decision if you want to avoid high polluted days in the city centre. Wide outdoor spaces and fields are near which help to reduce the bad air quality. Most of these areas are only surrounded by residential areas, parks, private International schools and a few shopping malls. The suburbs in Beijing are located about 40 minutes by car from main city areas such as Chaoyang Park, CBD or Sanlitun.

To avoid outdoor activities and sport during heavy smog days should also be done.

If you live in Beijing and the day has a hazardous air quality index, you will realized the smog around the city: it is like fog but makes the landscape look grey and covers mostly all high building around the area.


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