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Air pollution in China is bad. A recent documentary titled Under the Dome set out to investigate the extent of China's air pollution and its findings are pretty incredible. Last year, Beijing had 175 "polluted days," when conditions were so bad that schools are closed and planes are grounded. More broadly, the European Union found pollution across the country is staggering: less than 1% of China's residents breathe clean air. People in China can be exposed to 40 times the number of microscopic irritants than is recommended by the World Health Organization. The pollution is having a significant impact on health and life expectancy, with high rates of lung cancer and pollution-caused deaths.
This poor air quality largely stems from years of not having industrial pollution standards and regulations. It was only in the 1980's when China began addressing the massive amount of toxins coming from vehicle emissions, industrial waste, and coal usage. More recently, China banned high-polluting vehicles and reduced its reliance on industrial coal.
Chan Jing's review: Under the Dome - Investigating China's Smog
Kids Get 'Smog Day' As Pollution Shuts Down Chinese City (Time)
"Winter is coming, that's for sure. The northeastern city of Harbin today ushered in the season with smog so thick that visibility was reportedly limited to 10 meters in places."
An empirical research on the interactions of China's energy consumption, pollution emissions and economic growth (International Journal of Global Energy Issues)
"The negative effects of energy consumption and pollution have restrained Chinese economy from further rapid sustainable growth."