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Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups|| 135 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 49.5 µg/m³|
|PM10|| 164 µg/m³|
|O3|| 53 µg/m³|
|NO2|| 53 µg/m³|
|SO2|| 4 µg/m³|
|CO|| 500 µg/m³|
PM2.5 concentration in Kizilsu air is currently 4 times above the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Monday, Sep 13|
Moderate 91 US AQI
|Tuesday, Sep 14|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 140 US AQI
|Wednesday, Sep 15|
Moderate 95 US AQI
|Thursday, Sep 16|
Moderate 93 US AQI
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 135 US AQI
|Saturday, Sep 18|
Moderate 69 US AQI
|Sunday, Sep 19|
Moderate 87 US AQI
|Monday, Sep 20|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 138 US AQI
|Tuesday, Sep 21|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 136 US AQI
|Wednesday, Sep 22|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 145 US AQI
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Kizilsu, also known as Kezilesu, is a city located in Xinjiang, a region located in the northwestern side of China, bordering other countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It can be seen that the city has had some bad levels of air quality over the last few years, with recordings going back to 2017 showing fluctuating levels of air pollution ranging from mildly unhealthy all the way to definitively unhealthy, and likely to cause harm to a majority of the population, particularly to vulnerable groups or those who have to endure over exposure on a daily basis.
In late April of 2021, Kizilsu came in with a US AQI reading of 471, an extremely high reading that placed it in the directly into the ‘hazardous’ air quality rating. This indicates that when this reading was taken (in the hours leading up to afternoon) that the air would already be heavily permeated by smoke, haze, smog and all manner of hazardous particulate matter and other dangerous air contaminants.
Whilst this is an extremely poor reading and would warrant many preventative measures having to be put into place (such as the wearing of fine particle filtering masks, or avoiding outdoor activity if possible), it still stands to reason that when observing previous days, Kizilsu had readings of US AQI that came in considerably lower, showing the sporadic nature of air pollution taking place in the city.
US AQI is a composite measurement taken from the main pollutants found in the air, some of which include ones such as PM10 (particulate matter of 10 micrometers or less), PM2.5 (particulate matter of 2.5 micrometers or less), and other ones such as ozone (O3), as well as several others that will be discussed later in the article. PM2.5 is also a prominent measure of air pollution even when taken on its own, with yearly averages often being taken in PM2.5 readings.
The reason it has such prominence is that particles that are 2.5 micrometers or less (often going down to sizes many microns small and still being counted as part of the PM2.5 collective), as well as the many harmful materials they are comprised of, can be of great danger to human health, able to penetrate deep into the lung tissue and enter into the bloodstream.
Whilst Kizilsu had its sizeable US AQI reading of 471 in late April, the previous days falling in both April and March showed readings going as low as 35, 37 and 44, all readings that would be classed as either good or moderate. Midway through April a reading of 759 was taken, with days following that also having high readings such as 279 and 184. As such, Kizilsu is a city that can see both cleaner qualities of air, followed by massive spikes in air pollution. With a long track record of similar occurrences taking place, Kizilsu will need to do much to prevent its air pollution from reaching such dangerous levels in the future.
Numerous different causes of pollution come together to bring Kizilsu’s pollution levels to the heights that it has on record. This can be further compounded by anthropogenic activity (such as the burning of firewood or charcoal within homes, as well as the burning of refuse or waste in open and exposed piles), as well as meteorological conditions, with large dust accumulations being blown into the city, as well as lack of prevailing winds during bouts of high pollution also allowing the pollution levels to skyrocket without an adequate source of removal. Wind is one of the more vital aspects of air pollution removal, particularly when it comes to the finest particle sizes, being far more effective than rain in cleaning out a cities air.
Excessive coal consumption in the city is also another key factor that plays into the heightened US AQI and PM2.5 levels, the use of which across industrial facilities can lead to widespread release of noxious smoke clouds that contain many chemical contaminants and hazardous particles. Vehicles, construction sites, poorly paved roads and any other activity that sees either combustion or the mass disturbance of earth taking place can also be considered a prominent source of pollution, both in Kizilsu and across the entirety of Xinjiang province.
Observing the data collected over the course of 2020, it can be seen that Kizilsu came in with a yearly PM2.5 average reading of 52 μg/m³, placing it within the higher end of the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ bracket. This requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 35.5 to 55.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such, and as can be seen, was only a few units away from moving up to the next pollution ratings group, the ‘unhealthy’ one (55.5 to 150.4 μg/m³ required).
This reading of 52 μg/m³ also placed Kizilsu in 86th place out of all cities ranked worldwide in 2020, as well as 30th place out of all cities ranked in China. This top 100 placing is yet another indicator of how much further Kizilsu needs to go in order to see improved pollution levels.
The highest readings taken during the year were in the months of January through to April, with readings of 63.6 μg/m³, 64.9 μg/m³, 144.2 μg/m³ and 89.3 μg/m³ respectively. All of these sat within the ‘unhealthy’ ratings bracket, and saw March as being the most polluted month of the year by quite a wide margin with its reading of 144.2 μg/m³.
The middle period of the year saw the most appreciable levels of air quality take place, with readings that mostly fell into the ‘moderate’ bracket. The respective readings of PM2.5 were 35.3 μg/m³, 38.4 μg/m³, 14.9 μg/m³ and 29.8 μg/m³. This made July the most polluted month of the year by a significant amount, with its reading of 14.9 μg/m³ placing it very close to the ‘good’ pollution ratings bracket (10 to 12 μg/m³ required).
Some other prominent pollutants that would be found in the air would be ones such as black carbon (the main component found in soot and a potent carcinogen) along with volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Some examples of VOCs include chemicals such as benzene, toluene, xylene and methylene chloride, as well as formaldehyde.
Heavy metals such as mercury or lead can be found around industrial areas, along with other pollutants that go into the US AQI calculation, which are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons would also be found in the air, along with fine particles of dust, gravel or silica, all of which can cause large amounts of damage to the lungs of those who inhale it.