The US Wednesday announced it was expanding an air-quality monitoring programme it started in Beijing years ago to other cities around the world, starting with India.
Under this programme, called AirNow, US missions will monitor air-quality in host cities and countries to help its personnel take better care of themselves.
Secretary of state John Kerry announced the initiative — an agreement between his department and the environmental protection agency (EPA) —with India as the first destination. Vietnam would be next, he added.
Underlying the stated objective of helping US personnel is an assumption that host countries are not able to monitor air quality — suspended particulate matter — on their own.
“Air pollution is a serious and growing health threat worldwide, yet in many areas, real-time air-quality data is not available,” said a factsheet released by the department of state.
China had not responded well to the monitoring. But the US believes, the Beijing experiment worked well, not only for Americans posted there, but also for China, leading the country down the path of pollution control.
It was the US monitoring that found that Bejing’s infamous winter haze was caused by pollution and not fog as was believed, American officials believe.
“Our experts would be taking off in the next few weeks to get this programme started in India,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, at the launch of the programme.