Beijing caves to public, releases pollution data

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Caving to public pressure, Beijing environmental authorities started releasing more detailed air quality data Saturday that may better reflect how bad the Chinese capital's air pollution is. The initial measurements were low on a day where you could see blue sky. After a week of smothering smog, the skies over the city were being cleared by a north wind. The readings of PM2.5 -- particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size or about 1/30th the average width of a human hair -- were being posted on Beijing's environmental monitoring center's website. Such small particulates can penetrate deep into the lungs, so measuring them is considered a more accurate reflection of air quality than other methods.

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