Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A note from the underground: pollution in China

For the past week, Beijing has been deluged under the worst pollution I've ever seen. Here's a terrifying photo a friend of mine took this morning in Guomao, the trade center of Beijing:

Meanwhile, here's the air quality data for the past 5 days:

Note that the MINIMUM reading is 366. Meanwhile, the reading as I post this is 502, which is literally off the charts - the index only goes up to 500. According to Forbes, "Most cities don’t even have a single day each year when the AQI is above 100." The most polluted parts of the Los Angeles valley sometimes break 150. Beijing's pollution is, by any rational standards, insane - and it's not even close to being the most polluted city in China.

It looks like mist but it isn't
There was one day when the pollution levels dropped from life-threatening to pretty decent, a switch which was manifested right in front of my eyes by the rain, which at the beginning was literally brown. 10 seconds of a suddenly-arising rain stained my red shirt - a situation which no doubt would be even worse had the shirt been white.

That is the sun, not the moon
Other than keeping my windows closed and wearing a mask every time I go outside, there's not much I can do about the situation. But I'll certainly be glad when the next blue-sky day comes.


  1. Check out -- there is a way to make a DIY air filter in Beijing for about 200 RMB by permanently attaching a HEPA filter to a box fan. You may find this beneficial in ensuring cleaner air when you are at rest in your home. I certainly noticed this when I was living in Shanghai ... I have asthma and there were many days when I just didn't go out.

    1. Yeah, I have one and it's great. Thanks for the tip.