Postcards from (smoggy) Beijing

Pollution levels reached "hazardous" levels in Beijing on Saturday. Some scientists have labled Beijing as "unlivable" because of the poor air quality in the city.

Air pollution reached “hazardous” levels in Beijing on Saturday. Some scientists have labeled the city as “unlivable” because of the poor air quality.

Pollution masks have become a necessity in the capital. I started wearing them a couple of years, after I noticed that I was getting sore throat and coughs more frequently.

Pollution masks have become a part of everyday life in the capital. I started wearing them a couple of years ago, after I bought a bike and began using it to commute around the city.

View of suburban Beijing from a subway car. Some scientists have labeled the city as "unlivable" because of the poor air quality.

View of suburban Beijing from a subway car. An Australian soccer player who spent a year in China told the magazine FourFourTwo that playing in the smog “was like closing your garage door, turning your car exhaust on and running around in the enclosed space.”


14 thoughts on “Postcards from (smoggy) Beijing

    • Thanks for the comment. I’m here for a job and am an American citizen, so I have the luxury of being able to leave whenever I want. But you’re right … there are so many people here who don’t have that option. And they really don’t have the option of moving to smaller, less polluted communities because the big polluted cities are where a lot of the best paying jobs are at.

    • 1. Yes, the spring and fall are typically not as bad, because it’s windy and the breeze keeps the air from getting too dirty. Winter is the worst because of all the coal that’s being burned for heating.

      2. Unless there’s a hard rain or gusty winds, the smog tends to last all day. There have been stretches where it’s been bad for 7-10 days in a row.

      Thanks, will do my best to stay healthy, which might ultimately require leaving!

      • Glad to hear it. And you are right, it is sad that people have to live in this. But I found that most people in Chengdu were not to worried. Don’t take it lightly though. It’s way worse than smoking.

      • That’s been my experience here, although it seems that a lot of the younger professionals are more aware of the pollution and tend to monitor it closely. I’m not taking it lightly. I’ve read one too many reports by scientists and doctors about the long-term effects of exposure to air pollution.

  1. Oh, man! I do not miss these kind of days. We lived in Chengdu for way too long, until the doctor told me that we had to leave because I had developed asthma. I am so happy to have blue skies and clean air to breath every day. Get out of there! There are plenty of other places to live in China.

      • Yeah, I never had any problem either. But after two years in Chengdu, I started to have respiratory problems, and then they just kept getting more serious as time went on. We moved to Lijiang, and it has been great! But I couldn’t stay in one of the heavily polluted cities. The doctor told me I’d develop emphysema. Seriously, get out! It’s not worth it.

      • I’ve been to Yunnan province, but didn’t make it Lijiang. It’s beautiful there and, most importantly, clean. I get a lot of random one, two-day sore throats and coughs that are hard to kick … so nothing too serious, but I’m still worried about the long-term effects. It sounds like you made good decision to move if the doctor thought it was that serious. I feel bad for the people here who have no choice but to live in polluted cities. They deserve a lot better.

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