Air pollution in China is at an all-time high. The Asian Development Bank together with Tsinghua University recently released the "National Environmental Analysis," has reported that among the world's ten most air polluted cities, 7 are in China. They are Taiyuan, Beijing, Urumqi, Lanzhou, Chongqing, Jinan and Shijiazhuang.
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Earlier this week, the NY Times reported that the air-quality monitoring device atop the United States Embassy in Beijing had recorded the highest levels yet. The device measures fine particles called PM 2.5 because they are 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller. An air quality index of 500 is considered the worst possible and yet the device recorded a level of 755. For a comparison, the current air quality index for New York City is 19.
Because of the pollution, Beijing activated for the first a new plan that restricts construction and industrial activity, curbs vehicle use by government officials and limits schoolchildren to limit outside activity, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The cost of pollution is measurable. Last year, 700 flights needed to be canceled due to smog and low visibility. And according to CNN, Beijing Hyundai Motor Company suspended production this past Sunday, and nearly 30 construction sites stopped construction. There has been a sharp rise in the frequency of car accidents, respiratory illness, and according to ShanghaiList, the big hospitals in Beijing, Jinan, Shijiazhuang and Nanning are crowded with patients.