The Great Chinese Airpocalypse of Jan. 2013

(I insist you play this song while viewing this post.)

slither2 The Great Chinese Airpocalypse of Jan. 2013
Our super-fast train back to Qingdao slithers out of the white muck
at the Tianjin South Station on Monday around 2pm.

One of the reasons we left Tianjin for Qingdao was the air pollution. It’s not that Qingdao’s air is good — it’s just not as apocalyptic (though labeling 175 “lightly polluted” is borderline Orwellian).

compare The Great Chinese Airpocalypse of Jan. 2013

But in a curious and unhealthy twist of fate, we were visiting friends in Tianjin (30min fast train ride from Beijing) on the weekend of China’s recent Airpocalypse, when the API clocked in at 755 in the Capitol. Previously the API always just maxed out at 500: “Beyond Index”.

tianjintrend The Great Chinese Airpocalypse of Jan. 2013

On a bad pollution day in Qingdao (API in the 300s) the mountains in the distance are gone. On a bad day in Tianjin, the building across the street looks hazy and the ones down the road gone. API 300 is horrid by North American standards; they’d be canceling outdoor events. But it doesn’t necessarily elicit comments in China, even though you can see it out your window, smell it immediately when you open your door, and, if you spend any time outside, feel it in your throat. The worst we’ve seen so far in Qingdao is mid-400s.

Over 500, however, is just… dystopic. Here’s a shot I took from a Tianjin parking lot during the airpocalypse, around noon:

parkinglot The Great Chinese Airpocalypse of Jan. 2013

And here’s a regional API screenshot from the China Air Pollution app:

map The Great Chinese Airpocalypse of Jan. 2013

We’ve done plenty of crying on the blog about the air pollution in China, and the result is a handy collection of links, organized by topic below. My favourites in bold.

Extracting honest numbers from the Chinese government:

Photos & Visuals:

Chinese Air Pollution & Your Health:

coal The Great Chinese Airpocalypse of Jan. 2013

3 thoughts on “The Great Chinese Airpocalypse of Jan. 2013

  1. I lived and worked in Tianjin for a year. One of my colleagues said it best: “Just being out on the streets and breathing is like smoking.” Awful.

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