China Smog

China Smog

Part of a series on China. [View Related Entries]

Updated Jan 19, 2018 at 05:05PM EST by Don.

Added Dec 04, 2015 at 03:35PM EST by Ari Spool.

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Chinese Smog, also referred to as Chinese Air Pollution, refers to the high levels of toxic material in the atmosphere of China, which is a danger to Chinese public health and an environmental crisis. Many online track and discuss the daily pollution levels, while others ridicule China for its issue.


The quick industrialization of China has led to extremely high levels of air pollution, mostly due to the Chinese system of powering their cities with coal and the large quantity of factories.[1] Several times since 2013, the pollution has reached levels that are higher than the Global Air Quality Index, with higher levels of particulate parts per million than the scale is usually used to record.[2] In 2004, it was recorded that the cities with the highest level of particulate matter in the air were Tianjin, Chongqing, and Shenyang.

The government of China has responded with stricter regulations, however, only some types of particulate, like sulfur, have declined, and smog continues to reach extremely dangerous levels in many areas of China, often spreading into other bordering countries and worldwide.[3]

Chinese air pollution, as as seen from space.

Notable Developments

Fake Sunrise on a Screen

In January of 2014, during a smog crisis, a photograph by ChinaFotoPress was circulated via Getty Images that appeared to show residents of Beijing watching the sun rise on a large outdoor LCD screen in Tiananmen Square. Many news outlets, including the Huffington Post,[4] The Daily Mail[5] and The Mirror,[6] reported that the heavy smog had blocked out the sunrise, forcing residents to watch it on the screen instead. The story was later debunked as an untruth; the sunrise was a still from a Chinese tourism commercial, and the people watching it were simply residents and visitors to the historical site.[7]

© ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Vacuumed Smog Brick

During the summer of 2015, when smog levels were at record high numbers, an artist going by the name "Brother Nut" created a project which lasted for 100 days. Each day he walked around Beijing, vacuuming the air, and compressing the particulate he collected.[8] After the 100 days, Brother Nut had compressed about 100 grams of particulate from the amount of air that 62 people breathe in one day; he then took the dust to a factory and had it mixed with clay into a foundation-style brick. This story received international media attention and was posted heavily on Facebook and Twitter, where it was a trending topic.


Outlining Beijing Landmarks

In December 2015, users of Chinese social media began posting photos of the notable buildings of Beijing covered in smog. Since the buildings were obscured by the pollution, the users outlined their shapes. These images received attention on both the Eastern and Western media, including articles on Mashable[9] and Wu Jie News.[10]


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