Image courtesy of Washington Post, Bill Bishop


China has reached a breaking point. Recent in the news is the talk about the ever-increasing air pollution in China that is putting its citizens at risk for health problems.

Air pollution can have detrimental effects to human health. First off, air pollution can harm lung development in children and cause early childhood asthma. Pollution for cars, trucks, factories, and power plants can trigger asthma attacks. Research has found that 30 percent of childhood asthma cases are caused by environmental exposures. High air pollution levels have also been linked to a higher prevalence of heart problems, non-cancer health problems, and can increase one’s risk of developing cancer. From exposure to toxic pollutants, individuals can develop a chronic respiratory disease and can damage the brain, liver, and kidneys.

Not only is air pollution damaging the health of citizens, it is also costing nations billions of dollars every year in health care.

The photo you see here was taken in Beijing. The building that you can make out in the photo on the left is the China World Trade Center III, although you wouldn’t know that it exists by solely looking at the photo on the right. This image just gives you an idea of how dense the pollution in China is. And if you are normal citizen on the streets, you can’t see more than 200 feet in front of you. The visibility is so bad that flights have been cancelled and satellite photos reveal that the smog can be seen from space.

If you need more evidence that what you can see with your naked eye, take a look at measured air pollution levels. Air pollution is measured by particles per cubic meter of air, called PM2.5. The higher this number is, the worse the air is for human health. The Environmental Protection Agency claims that once this number reaches 300, people should stay inside.

But air pollution levels in Beijing commonly exceed 500 and have hit a record 755 on January 12! The air pollution in China is claimed to be caused by the burning of coal from power plants and vehicle emissions.

The dangerously rising air pollution levels in China should be a lesson to us all that if we do not take action now, our planet my not be livable—and there is no Planet B.