China's Air Quality Data Suspiciously Sunny
Expert calls new data 'surprising'
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2012 6:39 AM CST
Heavy pollution surrounds the China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters building (R) in Beijing on January 18, 2012.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The Chinese government, under fire from its citizens about its unbelievably upbeat pollution reports, has started to release more detailed data about smog in Beijing, reports the AP. For the first time, Beijing's official weather website yesterday included readings about PM2.5, or particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size—extra-small particles that are considered more dangerous. So far, though—surprise, surprise—the new readings have been good, with data one expert called "surprisingly low."

The numbers vary considerably from US Embassy data; yesterday's official reading would have fallen under EPA standards as "good," while the US numbers were merely "moderate." One expert says he's "already a bit suspicious" of Beijing's numbers, which included seven ultra-low readings. "In all of 2010 and 2011, the US Embassy reported values at or below that level only 18 times out of over 15,000 hourly values or about 0.1% of the time," he complains.