Smog in Macau – No more green

That is why Macau never has green plants ~ dust turns them greyish green

In line with my recent post about the current AQI levels in Macau, I would like to present another two photos that left me thinking about the air quality in Macau. The above photo, as well as the below one, are part of my 2015 Smog in Macau photo set on Flickr, in which I collect all screenshots, readings and related photos about pollution in Macau.

The photo above was taken in Macau close to government offices in proximity of the chapel of Our Lady of Penha and Lilau Square. What can be seen is a layer of dust that sits on the leaves of this plant. This is the main reason that Macau is not green and plants, trees and flowers do not look as vivid as e.g. in Europe or other parts of the world.

The second photo, below, shows our balcony’s washing machine. Here, again, dust has accumulated on the cover. This is the accumulated dust of approximatelly two weeks. A thin layer of black and grey. The AQI in recent days reached 150 and above for several hours per day. That is categorized as “unhealthy”.

Once again I recommend everyone to get themselves a PM2.5 protection mask (N95 mask) from a local store. A pack of 50 masks costs about 300 MOP (3M type).

Dust on the washing machine

Welcome to Germany – A photographic invitation to Deutschland

Welcome to Germany

Similar to my Explore Macau collection on Flickr or my Places on this Earth galleries I dug deep in my photographic archives (105 thousand photos and counting) and created an entry portal entitlted “Welcome to Germany” that features photo sets about Germany’s landscapes, sights and cities. Currently fed from my archives I hope to be able to add to this collection in years to come.

A few examples below:

Neues Schloss Stuttgart

Englischer Garten München

Cathedrale and the bridge

Macau – Understanding Construction Workers – Xu Wei

 

This being completely off topic… Understanding constructions works in Macau one has to understand how the workers think and act. One thing that surprised is me that accross my construction sites, workers had the tendency to listen to Xu Wei on their phones or portable MP3 devices! Wherever one would go, somewhere somehow Xu Wei would sing to you, especially from mainland Chinese workers’ devices.

As a note to any construction professional out there: If you want the workers to understand you, recognize Xu Wei and mention it to them. They will recognize you on site much faster after you have told them you know this rock musician from mainland China.

Smog in Macau – A word of caution – 171 on the PM 2.5 index

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Monday evening, March 16th 2015, the smog is still visible

 

The AQI for PM2.5 reached 171 yesterday in Taipa’s Central Park

Yesterday was a very smoggy day in Macau. Today was not better. Walking outside in Taipa, one could taste the air. Checking out the official SMG website its front indicator showed 40 to 60 on the air quality index, i.e. Good to Moderate. How can that be when one cannot see the sun or blue sky? The answer is further hidden on the SMG website (see definitions):

The calculation period for daily AQI is from 12:00 noon of yesterday to 12:00 noon of today. Each sub-index is calculated from at least 18 hours of sampling data for that period. Otherwise, it is considered to be fallacious. If the AQI is above 100, the pollutant which results in that index will also be indicated.”

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Sunday afternoon, no blue sky, no sun.

What does that mean? It means that the AQI as shown on SMG reflects a 24 hour period for PM 2.5 and NOT the current or real time data. In fact, looking at the concentrations for Sunday one can see the spike starting at morning time:

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Concentration levels for PM2.5 on Sunday

Monday was by far not better:

Concentration levels for PM2.5 on Monday evening

Concentration levels for PM2.5 on Monday evening

These concentration levels are being recorded on a real time basis with an hourly publication on the SMG website within the section ‘Concentrations’. The daily index however is being calculated on a 24 hour basis, backdated to the last noon-to-noon period. Details on the standard way of calculation can be found here. That means when one wakes up and sees the smiley faces and the weather forecast states “mist” or “fog”, one cannot trust these statements.

Monday Evening, Home Page of SMG showing the AQI

Monday Evening, Home Page of SMG showing the AQI

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Screenshot, taken Monday evening, showing the weather cam and the indication ‘Mist’

 

In fact, let’s have a look at the real time data collected from the very same Taipa Central Park station:

Real time data overview of AQI for Central Park Station Taipa, by AQICN.ORG

Real time data overview of AQI for Central Park Station Taipa, by AQICN.ORG

This website shows the current AQI for the corresponding PM 2.5 concentration in that particular hour. Going from this chart 6 hours of yesterday and over 8 hours of today had been “unhealthy”. And what does that mean? According to Technical Assistance Document for the Reporting of Daily Air Quality – the Air Quality Index (AQI) by the US Environmental Protection Agency an ‘unhealthy’ PM 2.5 figure means:

Increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in people with cardiopulmonary disease, older adults, and people of lower SES; increased respiratory effects in general population

The air quality can change dramatically within a short period of time and due the backdated nature of SMG’s AQI, one can endanger oneself’s health by only following the smiley face picture without checking the accurate real time data provided otherwise.

To summarize:

  • The SMG website shows AQI as a daily average figure that does not represent correctly the real time situation in Macau and Taipa
  • Real time data is available at AQICN (there is also an app for downloading)
  • When the air is unhealthy, please please please wear an appropriate respiratory protection mask

Further information:

Macau – Two worlds colliding – LRT & Galaxy Macau Phase 2 Progress Photo

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Above photo shows the current state of construction of two major projects in Macau, one being in private hands, one being in public hands:

Ironically enough the same photo shows how two worlds collide that actually are very tightly interlinked with each other: The world of gambling and gaming, endless streams of revenues in the past years and a fast track project which is scheduled for completion this May. And then, the world of public project management in Macau, its actually endless pockets filled by tax money from the very same casino operators we just talked about, however none of the same pace-minded approach in construction: The LRT was recently called out for a 883 days delay.

Photo taken on February 9th 2015 by Max-Leonhard von Schaper

China – Huidong Mall Fire

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There had been a mall fire in Guangdong Province, China, leaving at least 17 people dead. Given the above photo and the description offered in the news article, it seems to be a very typical mall as operating throughout the country.

From my own experiences in China, as well as in Macau, fire safety both in prevention and in suppression is lacking far by European standards. A few examples:

  • Fire exit doors closed, locked or barricaded.
  • Emergency staircases used as storage or carpentry store.
  • Contractors that try to save money by conciously trying to circumvent existing regulation and installing inferior materials.

One can only hope that regulations and especially the implementation and control of the same are being tightened after the event above. Otherwise we might see a repeat within a short time.

Macau – Public Projects – Delay and Overspending

Project Name Budget Current Spending Start of Construction Scheduled Completion Current Announced Completion Delay
Macau Prison (EPM) – First Stage August 2010 August 2013 Unknown >1.5 years
LRT Macau – Phase I Line (Macau-Taipa Line) MOP7.5 billion MOP14.27 billion 2011 2014 September 9, 2017 883 Days
Taipa ferry terminal MOP 500 million MOP3.2 billion 2005 2009 End of 2014 / Not Realized 6 Years

Given recent news on the progress of Macau prison, I decided to collect a few of the most prominent public projects that face delay and overspending. As can be seen all projects are scheduled to complete within the next few years. How this is possible whereas even big projects such as Wynn or Sands’ The Parisian are announcing delays, is another story.