Smog smothers Harbin, China

(Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Smog, not fog, envelops a bridge in Harbin, China (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Smog at 30 times the World Health Organization’s recommended standard has blanketed Harbin, China, a city of 10 million, for several days. Visibility in some parts of the city is said to be as little as 30 feet. And with roads and airports closed, there’s no escape.

The smog is attributed variously to lack of wind, high humidity, farmers burning off their fields after the harvest, and coal-fired heating systems. CNN reported this morning that such smog, which occurs intermittently, can take up to five years off the lives of the residents, and that even sophisticated masks are not sufficient to make inhaled air safe.

Imagine stepping out of your home and into pollution like this instead of the clean, breathable air you take for granted. It makes me inexpressibly grateful for the bright sun and brilliant blue skies above Denver today.

I think I’ll go for a long walk.



Categories: Green, Health, International, video content

16 replies

  1. I saw this on the news PT, along with reports of growing unrest over the resources being used to provide indoor “safe harbors” to members of the government elite. So sad.

  2. I also saw this on the news….miserable! What they didn’t mention is that it also smells of diesel fuel ALL the time…getting a fresh breath of air is a miracle!

  3. Some of the main culprits causing smog also contribute to “global warming.” Seems to me there is little point debating whether the warming is real or not when we run the risk of chocking to death on bad air if we don’t do more to combat the pollutants.

    • And yet the people who say there is no global warming are the same ones who want to do away with the EPA and all our current protections/regulations against air pollution. As you say, we’ll probably all choke to death before they’ll admit there’s a problem. Or maybe some of us will have drowned in our beachfront homes before we choke to death on bad air.

  4. I saw this in the NYTimes and it’s just awful. I read earlier this year that 1 million people a year die prematurely from air pollution in China. Sad, especially for the kids.

    • Thanks. I was not aware that China has been working hard to reduce its air pollution. Frankly, I’d been working with the old assumption that the Chinese government really didn’t care as long as its workers were cranking out the maximum amount of cheap goods for the world market. It’s encouraging to know they aren’t content with poisoning their people and the rest of the world just to make a buck.

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