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 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. 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”
Yep- your pictures pretty much some it up! I’m sure it’s worse this October than last year though. At least we have APEC coming… blue sky.. 🙂
Very true. If only every month could be APEC month 🙂
How sad that you (and so many others) must contend with that level of pollution. I doubt that most people there have any choice about leaving. Good luck!
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.
Couple of questions: 1. Are there times of the years when the smog is not bad – say spring, summer? 2. On days with smog, does it last all day? Stay healthy!
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!
Dude! You need a better mask than that! Try these. We used them in Chengdu. We were able to buy them at the bike store.
That’s an old one. I’ve since upgraded and use a heavy-duty respo mask. Thanks for the link though!
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.
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.
I’ve had a lot of respiratory problems since moving here (In the US, I basically had none, aside from the occasional cold). So yeah, I’m developing an exit strategy.
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.