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|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Moderate|| 54 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Aksu is currently 2.7 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Tuesday, Sep 19|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 102 AQI US
|Wednesday, Sep 20|
Moderate 86 AQI US
|Thursday, Sep 21|
Moderate 53 AQI US
Moderate 54 AQI US
|Saturday, Sep 23|
Moderate 67 AQI US
|Sunday, Sep 24|
Moderate 64 AQI US
|Monday, Sep 25|
Moderate 59 AQI US
|Tuesday, Sep 26|
Moderate 69 AQI US
|Wednesday, Sep 27|
Moderate 62 AQI US
|Thursday, Sep 28|
Moderate 68 AQI US
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Aksu, of Aksu prefecture in Xinjiang, is a city located in in the northwestern region of the country, with close proximity to central Asia, finding itself on the northern side of the Tarim basin. It has an economy centered around the production and exportation of cotton, grain, fruits and cooking oils, as well as the manufacturing of cement and other chemical products. These can have knock on effects of causing heightened levels of air pollution to occur, to the extent that Aksu finds itself among the most polluted cities in both China and the world, largely due to the highly pollutive output that these production facilities and factories are capable of, as well as meteorological conditions also playing a part in the buildup of air contaminants.
In April of 2021, Aksu came in with a US AQI reading of 59, a reading that would place it into the ‘moderate’ pollution bracket. Whilst this is not distinctly bad for the day in which it was taken (late April), it can be seen that the surrounding days and months were subject to some extremely high US AQI readings.
Looking at these readings of US AQI, there were numbers that came in as high as 405 and 313, taken over the course of both March and April. These are extremely elevated readings, that would place that particular day into the ‘hazardous’ air quality bracket, which as the name indicates, carries with it a large number of adverse health effects for those who are exposed, some of which will be discussed in further detail.
Whilst these extremely high readings were present, it should be noted that the US AQI levels were somewhat sporadic in their recordings, fluctuating between extreme highs, and more appreciable readings. Some of the cleaner readings that came in were ones that went as low as 38, taken at the beginning of April and indicating a much cleaner quality of air. However, these cleaner days are offset by the extreme highs that can suddenly appear, filling the atmosphere with smoke, haze, smog and other dangerous air contaminants.
Over the course of 2020, Aksu also presented with a poor PM2.5 reading, coming in with 58.4 μg/m³ as its yearly average, putting it into the ‘unhealthy’ ratings bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 55.5 to 150.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. This is on the lower end of the unhealthy ratings bracket, but regardless, as the name suggests, this level of air quality would have presented numerous health issues for Aksu’s citizens over the course of 2020, with some months coming in with PM2.5 readings that far exceeded its yearly average readings.
This PM2.5 reading of 58.4 μg/m³ placed Aksu in 7th place out of all cities ranked in China in 2020, as well as 50th place out of all cities ranked worldwide. As such, Aksu could take many steps to improve its pollution levels in the future, having actually gotten worse when compared to its 2019 reading of 54 μg/m³. However, the readings from 2018 and 2017 show that it has still made a general improvement, with readings of 74.1 μg/m³ in 2018 and 69.8 μg/m³ in 2017 being on record.
Aksu has issues with its air quality due to multiple compounding sources. These include ones such as the heavy use of vehicles within the city, as well as larger freight vehicles such as lorries and trucks used to transport industrial goods. These can put out large volumes of exhaust fumes, which contain all manner of chemical compounds as well as hazardous particulate matter.
The use of older vehicles coupled with unclean or fossil fuel sources can also add to the problem further, as well as worn tires also throwing thousands of tons of microscopic rubber particles into the air, creating numerous problems for those who respire such particles, as well as a salient effect on wildlife, vegetation and the environment as a whole.
Other sources include ones such as factories and power plants, with many of these industrial facilities exceeding emissions standards. Although China is rapidly trying to combat these excessive emission levels, it still stands to reason that the industrial effluence and pollutive output is far above what is considered safe, hence the extremely high readings on record. Construction sites, road repairs, poorly paved roads and even demolition sites or the removal of old buildings can also throw vast quantities of both fine (PM2.5) and coarse (PM10) particles into the air, showing the range of the different polluting sources present in Aksu.
Looking at the data gathered over the course of 2020 as a concise measure, it can be seen that Aksu had its worst period of pollution between the months of January to May, as well as both October and December later in the year also showing poor readings of air quality. January through to May all came in with readings in the ‘unhealthy’ air quality bracket, and the most polluted month of the year was March, with a very high reading of 114.5 μg/m³ on record. Particular caution should be tended to at such times of the year when air pollution is at its highest.
The months of June through to August had the cleanest levels of PM2.5 throughout the year, with readings all within the ‘moderate’ pollution ratings bracket (12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³ required). The readings were 26.2 μg/m³, 19.8 μg/m³ and 32.3 μg/m³ respectively, making July the cleanest month of a year by a considerable measure with its reading of 19.8 μg/m³.
Health problems associated with breathing highly polluted air includes instances of dry coughs, chest pains, reduced lung function and scarring, as well as other topical conditions such as acne, atopic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. More serious conditions that can appear with excessive exposure include ones such as heightened rates of lung and skin cancer, as well as various respiratory ailments such as pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.
Preventative measures such as staying indoors during periods of high pollution (which can be tracked in Realtime via the AirVisual app or the air quality map on this page) as well as the wearing of high quality particle filtering masks can go a long way in reducing these pollution related health hazards.