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The air up there: China edition

February 1, 2013

In Focus has collected a series of photos showing the incredible level of air pollution that exists in many parts of China. The series even includes four photos that you can toggle between clear skies and where did everything go?

beijing

Wondering exactly how bad the pollution is? The Air Quality Index rates the level of toxicity in the air between 1 and 500. Anything over 300 is considered hazardous (and you should not go outside). A few years ago the toxicity level in Beijing topped 500. In January of this year, the level hit 755. By comparison, on the same day, the air quality index in New York City was 19.

Having lived in Beijing for two years, I can attest to how bad the smog can get. When I first moved there, I would wake up every morning and go sit out on the balcony (on the 10th floor) and take in what parts of the city I could see. It wasn’t until I had been there a month that I realized the city was surrounded by mountains. It was such a rare event to see the sun and blue sky that my friends and I took to texting each other whenever it happened (so that we could all make sure to take advantage of the day).

UPDATE: the link to the In Focus gallery was broken. It is fixed now

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