Apps for tracking air pollution in China

Keeping an eye on levels of pollution in the air – especially the PM 2.5 counts that focus on particles small enough to enter the bloodstream - is as relevant to people who live in China as checking the weather forecast. These apps will help you stay aware and make informed decisions about how you limit your exposure to pollution. For more information on dealing with bad air, see this article.



The US Embassy in Beijing deserves a lot of credit for helping to raise public consciousness of pollution and AQI levels. The Embassy’s Twitter feed of Beijing AQI readings (@BeijingAir – VPN required) remains an essential resource for residents in the capital.

It is also incorporated into most AQI apps alongside official Chinese data, although as of November 2014, some apps have been dropping the US Embassy feed during times of very high (450+) PM 2.5 ratings ‘at the request of the Chinese government’.

Having an app on your smartphone is the ideal way to quickly check on current AQI readings. The following are all worth a look:


1. China AQI (by Freshidea Studio)


Displays stats for cities all around China, allowing you to compare the US Embassy’s readings with those of the Chinese government. Another good feature is the graphs showing trends over a given period, from 24 hours up to two years.

iOS only. English and Chinese versions available. 

Download it here: 

2. Beijing Air Quality (by Longcat Labs) 


Only covers Beijing, but features hourly updates based on US Embassy data. Also features graphs charting movements in PM 2.5 on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. 

Android only. English and Chinese versions available.

Download it here: 

3. Beijing Air Quality Widget (by insdio) 


This app only focuses on Beijing, but uses various air quality indices to give a more holistic representation of air quality. 

Android only. English language.

Download it here: 


4. China AQI (by Bood Qian) 


Uses data from the US embassy in Beijing, as well as from US consulates in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. Offers a widget that can display PM 2.5 readings on your home screen. 

Android only. English and Chinese versions available.

Download it here:

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