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2016 Air Quality Awareness Week
 

Air Quality Around the World


Banner Photo Courtesy of NASA

May 4, 2017


Did you know that AirNow includes air quality data from more than a dozen sites around the world? The same Air Quality Index (AQI) you can use to learn about air quality in US cities is available for a growing number of monitors at US embassies and consulates.

EPA and the Department of State (DoS) formally established a partnership in February 2015. Since February 2015, DoS has been installing monitors at sites all around the globe. EPA makes the AQI at these monitoring sites available through AirNow.gov. Learn more at AirNow Department of State
AirNow DOS Screenshot   Currently, 21 posts report the AQI:
    India - 5,
    Indonesia - 2,
    Mongolia,
    Vietnam - 2,
    Colombia,
    Peru,
    Ethiopia - 2,
    Uganda,
    Bangladesh,
    Kosovo,
    Kuwait,
    Bahrain and
    Nepal - 2
Interest in AirNow and the Air Quality Index has been increasing internationally. Air quality professionals worldwide can learn more about how AirNow is helping countries and regions around the world inform the public about the quality of the air they breathe through the AirNow-International initiative.

Why is the air quality index reported at the US Embassy different from the index reported for the city?

The US Embassy reports the official US Air Quality Index (US AQI), which is most likely a different index, with different categories and breakpoints, than the air quality index for the country where the embassy is located. This is because the US AQI is based on the US air quality standards and supporting health information.

In addition, there is only one monitor for fine particle pollution [and/or ozone] located on the embassy grounds. In most cities, there are several monitors reporting air quality, and these may not report the same values because air quality can be different in different parts of the city. In some cities the air quality index is calculated by averaging the values across all the monitors located in that city.

Air Quality Around the World highlights the joint rollout of AQM systems in Nepal.

The U.S. Embassy and the Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE) -- joined by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) which is supporting Air Quality Monitoring (AQM) efforts in Nepal -- held a joint rollout of their AQM systems on March 14, 2017 at Ratna Park and Phora Durbar. The AQM rollout began with MoPE Secretary Bishwa Nath Oli cutting a ribbon to formally inaugurate the Government of Nepal AQM station at Ratna Park. Following the Government of Nepal AQM rollout, Ambassador Teplitz and MoPE Secretary Oli jointly initiated the U.S. Embassy AQM website portal at the Phora Durbar Recreation Center.

The embassy website portal provides data on U.S. Embassy AQM stations on the Embassy grounds and at the Phora Durbar Recreation Center in the Thamel area. The two U.S. Embassy AQM systems collect data on ozone (O3) and fine particle pollution (2.5 microns in diameter and less, referred to as “PM 2.5”). The collected data is converted into a color-coded Air Quality Index value that can help inform health-related decisions. For more information, visit the embassy's wesite or Facebook page

 
U.S. Ambassador Alaina Teplitz and MoPE Secretary Bishwa Nath Oli at the joint rollout of air quality monitoring systems ceremony in Kathmandu, Nepal   U.S. Ambassador Alaina Teplitz and MoPE Secretary Bishwa Nath Oli at the joint rollout of air quality monitoring systems ceremony in Kathmandu, Nepal
 

Events

Jakarta, Indonesia

Embassy Jakarta will host a May 4 event for university and high school students that features presentations by a State Department Jefferson Science Fellow, the Embassy’s Air Quality Fellow (via video), and Indonesian professors currently conducting air quality research. Using hands-on demonstrations and interactive discussions, the presenters and participants will explore the science behind air quality and air quality improvements.


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

For Air Quality Awareness Week, the Regional Environment Office at U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia will release an essay on the Embassy’s blog, as well as social media updates, summarizing the array of Post’s recent air quality engagements. The Embassy recently implemented its detailed Embassy-wide Air Quality Monitoring roll-out plan to launch the two new monitors located at our chancery and the international school. This roll-out campaign included a ribbon-cutting ceremony and briefing by the Chargé d’Affaires with Ethiopian government officials from the National Meteorological Agency. The Embassy also worked with the State Department’s Bureau of Medical Services to bring out an air quality medical expert to give a Town Hall briefing about pollution impacts to an audience of 80 members of the Embassy and international diplomatic community, as well as delivering a presentation at the International Community School.


Seoul, Republic of Korea

U.S. Embassy Seoul will be jointly hosting an air quality-focused event on May 2 with students. Held at the American Center Korea, students will participate in the GLOBE Observer program by utilizing their smartphones, loaded with the GLOBE app, to make observations about the environment in and around the center.


Hanoi, Vietnam

U.S. Embassy Hanoi is proud to host Air Quality Awareness Week. To keep attention on this important issue over the course of the week, it will host three separate events: a panel discussion on air quality aimed at working professionals, a journalist roundtable, and a movie screening aimed at high school students. It will also release an op-ed by Ambassador Osius and top it all off with a healthy dose of social media activities to stimulate the conversation. Air quality is a growing concern of the Vietnamese public, many of whom look to the U.S. Embassy, and its air quality monitor, as a trustworthy source of information.


Lima, Peru

U.S. Embassy Lima will highlight the Embassy’s air quality monitor and the importance of air quality awareness on the web and through its social media platforms.


Beijing, China

U.S. Embassy Beijing will hold an “Air Fair” on Friday, May 5, which will showcase air quality monitoring technology, the health effects of air pollution, and how to be air aware and protect yourself from unhealthy levels of pollution.


Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City has three separate events for Air Quality Awareness Week. On Wednesday, May 3 it will screen a series of movie and news clips on air quality and integrate them with a discussion led by environmental expert Hong Hoang of CHANGE, a local NGO. On Thursday, May 4, the Consulate will host a panel discussion with local economic and environmental experts on the primary sources of air pollution in and around Ho Chi Minh City. Finally, on Tuesday, May 9, the Consulate will host a workshop with local air quality and health experts on strategies for individuals to reduce exposure to harmful pollutants in the air. The discussion will review the relevance of the air quality index and other air quality measurements, as well as the potential long-term impacts of exposure to harmful pollutants.


Hyderabad, India

On April 20, U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad’s organized a panel discussion on “Air Quality and the City”. Consul General (CG) Katherine Hadda opened the discussion, which featured five experts (two of which are Department of State exchange program alumni) from India working in the field of environment and air quality. With 50 people in attendance, the event garnered significant interest – it was covered by local TV media, and several audience members followed CG Hadda to her car to ask more questions! CG Hyderabad plans to follow up with more clean air initiatives.


 
 
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