Chinese is a very difficult language to learn, even when it’s in English. Often when officials here have said the air is excellent and all I can see is smog, I've been left scratching my head trying to work out how that could be. So, recently I’ve been emailing a lot with Dr. George D. Thurston, Professor of Environmental Medicine NYU School of Medicine. He spends a lot of time trying to work out what the Chinese statistics mean when it comes to air quality.
So here’s what he tells me:
Excellent (China) = Good to Moderate (U.S.)
Excellent to Good (China) = Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (U.S.)
Good to Slightly Polluted (China) = Unhealthy (U.S.)
Slightly Polluted to Lightly Polluted (China) = Very Unhealthy (U.S.)
So during these Olympics, when you hear a Chinese official say the air is Good to slightly polluted, you’ll know that if you were in the US, that would be considered unhealthy.
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