International schools in Beijing: Q&A on air quality

What air quality controls do you have in place? What is your AQI cut-off for outdoor play?

Image: Marcin Wichary on Flickr
In our feature International schools in Beijing: key questions answered, we asked parents and students who are already settled in Beijing what key questions they wish they'd asked schools when they were choosing one. One of their top questions was: What air quality controls do you have in place? What is your AQI cut-off for outdoor play? We put this question to Beijing's international schools.

For other questions, see the list at the bottom of this feature.

Schools and their answers

Beijing City International School (北京乐成国际学校)

We have been able to reduce AQI by 85 percent with the use of filtration systems in our Elementary and Secondary School. Air on the school buses is also filtered. Our new ECC facility has a state-of-the-art air filtration system as well as indoor play areas for our youngest students. Our cut-off point for outdoor play breaks is an AQI of 200 to 250, depending on the age group.

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77 Baiziwan Nan Er Lu (CBD, --select--)

British School of Beijing, Shunyi 北京英国学校

We have a strong policy that allows outdoor play above AQI 200, except for our youngest children. We also monitor very closely the air within the building to ensure a healthy environment. We have constructed a fully pressurised Sports Dome and an advance integrated system of air purification throughout the building, using ceiling mounted purifiers, along with air curtains and large scale purifiers in public spaces. The whole system is regularly monitored by independent tests, which are undertaken on bad pollution days to ensure children remain safe and healthy.

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9 Anhua Lu, Tianzhu Development Zone (Shunyi)

Canadian International School (北京加拿大国际学校)

Our school is equipped with Pure Living’s air filtration system throughout campus. Outdoor play is restricted for preschool when the AQI is 200 plus, and for the entire campus when it exceeds 250. Additional details can be found on our website.

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38 Liangmaqiao Lu (Chaoyang, --select--)

Dulwich College Beijing (北京德威英国国际学校)

As well as stand-alone air purifiers in every classroom, we have teamed with Pure Global and installed a customised, in-line Primary Air Filtration system throughout the main buildings. The system has been specifically designed to meet US standard PM2.5 guidelines for air quality, and treats for the kinds of particles, gases and pollutants found in Beijing’s air. The outcome is that 100 percent of the air entering DCB is treated to create an indoor environment that is a minimum of 98 percent pollution free. In addition, the second dome and pavilion (3,000 sqm) will be ready in March.


Early Years children are only allowed out if the PM2.5 measures below 200. If it is over 150, they are not allowed out for more than 20 minutes at any one time. In the Senior and Junior Schools, 250 is the benchmark, but between 200-250 students will be allowed out for 20 minutes.

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89 Shoudu Jichang Lu (Capital Airport Road) (Shunyi)

International School of Beijing (北京顺义国际学校)

Throughout our 51,000-square-metre main school building, the highest standards of air quality are provided by state-of-the-art filtration and air-handling equipment air-handling units. In January 2013, ISB opened two sport and recreation domes that cover a combined area of 8,500 square metres. The domes are temperature-controlled and have purified air of the same level as the main school building. ISB monitors indoor air quality by taking readings at 26 internal locations multiple times a day. We also monitor the outside air quality regularly and modify outdoor activities accordingly. Elementary School students are to remain indoors if the pollutions levels are AQI 150 or higher, while Middle School and High School students remain indoors or do modified activity if AQI readings are 200 or higher.

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10 Anhuajie (Shunyi)

Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) 北京京西学校

Air quality is an important issue for our community, and WAB supports its own on-campus air-quality meter that is the same as the one used at the US Embassy. We publish our updated reading every 15 minutes online. We have large air-filtration systems installed in all school sections and air purifiers in all classrooms. WAB recently constructed the Tiger L’Air dome, as a highly functional alternative place for students to play, practice and compete. Activities for Elementary and Middle School students are moved inside when levels reach about 250. The limit for outdoor activities for High School students is 300.

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10 Laiguangying Dong Lu (Chaoyang, Chaoyang)

Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing)

Our cut-off point for outdoor play is 200. Any reading over 200 results in indoor activities for breaks and lunch time. We’ve always had quite strong pollution measures in place such as IQ Air Filters in all classrooms, but we recently underwent a huge renovation, and now have an Internal PM2.5 fresh-air system installed in all classrooms, offices and corridors in order to provide all students and staff with continuous fresh air. We can also monitor this system at all times during the day, and this is open to the community to view via a QR code.

All windows throughout the school are high-quality, air-tight and wind-pressure resistant, and are manufactured by the German company Schüco. All external doors are air-tight with high insulation doors produced by German manufacturer Hörmann. We also have Panasonic air curtains installed at all external doors to further improve air quality, acting as additional barriers between the indoor and outdoor environment. We have indoor playing areas for all year levels, a large gymnasium, the student café area and student lounges. Domes are often mentioned in terms of air quality protection but our indoor fresh air system provides the same solution as a dome in every way apart from the fact that we have normal roofs instead of a very futuristic looking roof.

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5 Houbalizhuang (Chaoyang, --select--)

Questions from parents

Questions from students

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