Source: Earth Observatory

Click here to see the side by side comparison



Air Pollution in China: Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map. Accessed January 14, 2013.

China Air Daily.Accessed January 14, 2013.

U.S Embassy Beijing Air Quality Monitor. Accessed January 14, 2013.



Beijing warns residents after off-the-charts smog (Associated Press, 2013, January 14)

New Map Offers a Global View of Health-Sapping Air Pollution. (NASA  2010, September 22)

Satellites Map Fine Aerosol Pollution Over China. (NASA Earth Observatory 2012, March 23)

China allows media to report alarming air pollution crisis.(NYT, 2013, January 14)

China’s air pollution problem slideshow (Yahoo News 2013, January 14)

Category: Digital Media, Science

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

21 Responses to “Air Quality in China”

  1. CSF says:

    Dates: the first is Jan. 3rd 2013, and the second is Jan. 14th, 2013.

  2. BennyProfane says:

    The upside of exporting our manufacturing.

    I’m old enough to remember a cross country drive with my family in 1960 when Gary, Indiana and Pittsburgh had visibility of maybe 50 feet.

  3. Derektheunder says:

    2014? Smognostication – impressive.

  4. Moss says:

    Is there an IPhone app for this?

  5. gordo365 says:

    Is this some sort of pollution “cliff”? Or does this point to the need to raise the smog “ceiling”?

    Political junkies need to know…

  6. Global Eyes says:

    Thanks, BR, for letting me connect China’s polution with (British) Rock n Roll. There’s a term for that. It’s called Industrial Disease. …Dire Straits circa 1990.


    BR: Right back atcha

  7. Angryman1 says:

    “Low interest rates are generally a sign that money has been tight, as in Japan; high interest rates, that money has been easy…After the U.S. experience during the Great Depression, and after inflation and rising interest rates in the 1970s and disinflation and falling interest rates in the 1980s, I thought the fallacy of identifying tight money with high interest rates and easy money with low interest rates was dead. Apparently, old fallacies never die.”

    Milton Friedman, 1998

  8. James Cameron says:

    Regarding the January 14 image:

    “At the time that the January 14 image was taken by satellite, ground-based sensors at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing reported PM2.5 measurements of 291 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Fine, airborne particulate matter (PM) that is smaller than 2.5 microns (about one thirtieth the width of a human hair) is considered dangerous because it is small enough to enter the passages of the human lungs. Most PM2.5 aerosol particles come from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass (wood fires and agricultural burning). The World Health Organization considers PM2.5 to be safe when it is below 25.”

    In other words, the measurements were nearly 12 times what is considered safe by WHO.

  9. Lyle says:

    Lets recall the fogs in London thru the 1950s or the air quality problems in western PA including Pittsburg about the same time. I suspect that the readings would have been as high then. It seems that in the process of development eventually an environmental crisis like this happens and more resources are diverted to avoid the problem in the future. In the case of London it was doing away with coal based heating plants, In the case of western PA it was clean up of industrial plants that helped fix the problem, (this happened before China opened up to the world) Actually the clean up of Gary and Pittsburg, happened in the 1960s after the Clean Air Acts and local acts were passed. (the major clean air act is 1970)
    Here is a post with pictures of Pittsburg during some of the pollution episodes: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/historic-pittsburgh-smoke-control-photos_n_1569252.html
    It does look very similar in terms of the atmosphere.

  10. bear_in_mind says:

    My gawd, that looks like an ash cloud from a volcanic eruption! Have they set the whole country ablaze?

  11. bear_in_mind says:

    There’s research suggesting that pollution from China is affecting air quality and weather on the West Coast of the U.S. — if not worldwide:

    Chinese pollution affecting U.S. weather
    CBS News
    Dec 12, 1011

    Homo sapiens need to get our collective act together!

  12. rd says:


    I drove along I-90 through Indiana in 1980. We expected a massive thunderstorm as the black clouds rolled overhead in the middle of the day. Then we drove past the smokestacks in Gary and it became sunny again.

    As long as we offshore our manufacturing and resource extraction, including oil, then we can focus on being green and virtuous. After all, the workers in China, Nigeria etc. are voluntarily living and working there. It is their choice to accept these conditions. They do have the option of voting their leaders out, leaving the country, joining a union, or voting their company shares against their corproate executives. The fact that they would probably be jailed or beaten for doing this is irrelevant.

  13. Irwin Fletcher says:

    I spent a few days in Bejing in 2009.
    The worst air I have ever “SEEN”. Most folks there wear the surgical masks
    walking around. So many do, that now they have designer masks! No shit.
    I saw some Burberry masks.
    We think we have bad air here.

  14. Joe Friday says:

    When I saw the coverage of this the other day, my first thought was of Ridley Scotts’ BLADE RUNNER.

    So where’s our damn flying cars ?

  15. stonedwino says:

    Global Eyes Says:
    January 15th, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks, BR, for letting me connect China’s polution with (British) Rock n Roll. There’s a term for that. It’s called Industrial Disease. …Dire Straits circa 1990.

    It’s exactly what my answer would have been…

    BR: Dire Straits is my top Rock Band…nice.

  16. 873450 says:

    Irwin Fletcher Says:
    “I spent a few days in Bejing in 2009.
    The worst air I have ever “SEEN”.
    Most folks there wear the surgical masks walking around.
    So many do, that now they have designer masks! No shit.
    I saw some Burberry masks.”

    Burberry designer masks likely counterfeit knockoffs
    Burberry legal dept is grateful and will contact you tomorrow.

  17. “…Health and Environmental Effects: In 1987, EPA replaced the earlier Total Suspended Particulate (TSP) air quality standard with a PM-10 standard. The new standard focuses on smaller particles that are likely responsible for adverse health effects because of their ability to reach the lower regions of the respiratory tract. The PM-10 standard includes particles with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less (0.0004 inches or one-seventh the width of a human hair). EPA’s health-based national air quality standard for PM-10 is 50 µg/m3 (measured as an annual mean) and 150 µg/m3 (measured as a daily concentration). Major concerns for human health from exposure to PM-10 include: effects on breathing and respiratory systems, damage to lung tissue, cancer, and premature death. The elderly, children, and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma, are especially sensitive to the effects of particulate matter. Acidic PM-10 can also damage human-made materials and is a major cause of reduced visibility in many parts of the U.S. New scientific studies suggest that fine particles (smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) may cause serious adverse health effects. As a result, EPA is considering setting a new standard for PM-2.5. In addition, EPA is reviewing whether revisions to the current PM-10 standards are warranted…”

    “… Fine Particles & Health: Information about the health effects of fine particles.

    Frequent Questions: Answers to common questions regarding fine particles and the designations process.

    Related Links: Related sites offering further information and assistance.

    Glossary: Explanations of the technical terms and acronyms used throughout the site. …”



  18. hue says:

    “i don’t know how you came to get the Betty Davis knees …” Love over Gold came out in 1982, Telegraph Road is great song.

    Not sure if the clouds and sun in Gary has to do with purely pollution. my first job out of college was in Scary, Ind. You get lake effect snow in Northwest Indiana, and it could be sunny in Chicago, and a blizzard in Gary. They would take the pollution and steel industry back again, for the jobs.

  19. number2son says:

    I’m old enough to remember a cross country drive with my family in 1960 when Gary, Indiana and Pittsburgh had visibility of maybe 50 feet.

    I grew up in So. Chicago in the 70′s and I recall regularly watching the dark industrial excretions from Gary and Hammond move in from the east on afternoons when the wind was blowing a certain way.

    Now those towns have been reset as homes to riverboat casinos. Not sure that’s much of an improvement.

  20. rd says:


    I live in area with lake effect clouds, so I am very familiar with them (a forecast of sunny in the winter means it won’t be snowing, not that you will actually see the sun). Those clouds I encountered in 1980 came out of Gary smokestacks – you could see it spew out as you drove by. Everything was black (much darker than lake effect clouds that are generally a relatively low but thin clouds cover) for 20 miles downwind of the smokestack and sunny upwind.