Monday, December 22, 2014

Air pollution makes Beijing nearly 'uninhabitable for human beings' according to study


After many days without rain in densely populated places like Los Angeles and New York City, it is sometimes possible to catch a small glimpse of what is an everyday reality for Beijing, China's 20-some million residents -- thick blankets of blackish smog that penetrate the air and fill the lungs of those who breathe it.

Beijing is one of the most air-polluted cities on the planet, so much so that researchers from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences declared it to be almost "uninhabitable for human beings" in a recent study. Buildings throughout the city are having to be outfitted with special air purifiers, and schoolchildren are being forced to play sports indoors, underneath special protective inflatable domes.

"It's a bit of a change having to go through an airlock on the way to class," stated Travis Washko, director of sports at the British School of Beijing, to The Guardian about some of the new ways the city's institutions are dealing with the problem. "But the kids love it, and parents can now rest assured their children are playing in a safe environment."

If it weren't for the dome, students would be forced outdoors into a thick layer of noxious pollution that almost never subsides. Air pollution has become so dense, in fact, that China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the average 18-year-old Beijing resident will spend about 40 percent of his remaining years in ill health.

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