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It is relatively easy to access the air pollution map for Suzhou from the main city page. At the top of the main page is a clearly marked map. By clicking anywhere on the map picture, another page will open which is dedicated to the air quality in and around the city.
The first thing the viewer will notice will be the overall colour of the map. This is a direct reflection of the air quality at that given time. Currently, the map is a greenish/yellow which denotes “Moderate” quality air. The explanation about the colours can be found in the legend at the bottom of the page. Colours range from pale green to dark maroon. Another thing to notice is the number of coloured discs that can be seen dotted around the map. These are the locations of all the ground-level air monitoring stations which provide data about air pollution. The colours used are the same as those in the legend and the number they carry is the US AQI reading. This US AQI reading is calculated by measuring the levels of six of the most commonly found pollutants in the city air. It is then used as a metric when comparing air quality in different cities around the world. This system is encouraged by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Briefly looking back at the main city page, it can be seen that in August 2022, Suzhou was experiencing a period of “Moderate” air quality with a US AQI reading of 82. The levels were recorded of all six of the most prolific pollutants, but it is PM2.5 that is used as a benchmark. This level was 27 µg/m³ which is almost five and a half times higher than the target figure of 5 µg/m³, as recommended by the WHO. These figures are quoted in microns per cubic metre.
Once studied in detail, the air pollution map for Suzhou will reveal many interesting things about air quality in the region. When the map is viewed in full-screen mode, four options will appear on the far left-hand side of the screen. These can all be activated and deactivated as required.
The first choice displays the position of the air monitoring stations as coloured discs, each showing its US AQI reading. The significance of the colours is explained in the legend. If these discs are overlapping and cannot be easily seen, once the map is expanded the discs will soon start to separate.
The second option will show the location of any wildfires that may be burning in the vicinity. This should be observed together with option number four which shows the wind speed and direction. This will give the viewer a warning of where the ensuing smoke may be blowing.
The third choice is possibly the most theatrical because it can change the entire colour of the map to reflect the current state of the air. Currently, it is a brownish/yellow which indicates “Moderate” air quality. If the viewer finds the colour to be overpowering then by de-selecting this third option, the colour on the map will revert to a more standard set of colours which are more recognisable.
Across on the far right of the screen can be found a table which ranks world cities according to their levels of air pollution. Some cities may come as a surprise as they are not normally thought of as being heavily polluted. It can be interesting when comparing one city with another.
Immediately beneath the air pollution map for Suzhou can be seen the number of stations which supply the air quality data. As of August 2022, there were nine stations supplying this data, all of which are supplied and controlled by the government.
Continuing down the page can be found a table which ranks these stations according to their level of pollution. The worst one at the moment is “Suzhou New District” with a US AQI reading of 149 which is “Unhealthy for sensitive groups”.
The next table lists the stations according to the number of followers they each have. Currently, number one goes to “Suzhou Industrial Park” which has over 91,000 followers.
These areas can be identified using one of two methods. The first would be to try and identify the disc with the darkest colour and highest US AQI reading.
The second way is the most obvious as all the stations are listed below the map, according to the level of their pollution. “Suzhou New District” is currently the most polluted area within the city.
The source of air pollution in Suzhou is not directly shown on the air pollution map for Suzhou. However, the sustained and rapid development of Suzhou's economy has driven the process of urbanization. The number of various enterprises is increasing, the scale is expanding year by year, the speed of energy consumption is accelerating, and the number of motor vehicles is increasing rapidly.
PM2.5 refers to particulate matter in the atmosphere with a diameter of less than or equal to 2.5 microns, also known as particulate matter that can enter the lungs. Its diameter is less than 1/20 the thickness of a human hair. Although PM2.5 is only a very small component in the composition of the earth's atmosphere, it has important effects on air quality and visibility.
Compared with the coarser atmospheric particles, such as PM10, PM2.5 has a smaller particle size, is rich in a large amount of toxic and harmful substances, and has a long residence time in the atmosphere and a long transportation distance, so it has a greater impact on human health and the quality of the atmospheric environment.
According to the World Health Organisation, PM10 and PM2.5 have more impact on human health than any other pollutants. Long-term exposure will increase the incidence of respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Since PM is very small, it may reach the bronchiolar wall after inhalation, which has a particular impact on lung health.