Here's an explanation of the map:
To get a sense of how China’s air quality compares with the rest of the world, there’s a new map of global air-particulate pollution from Canadian scientists using National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellite data. The verdict: It doesn’t look good.This isn't too surprising. It's still disturbing though.
It’s important to note that the data used for this map are derived from 2001 to 2006. But as The Wall Street Journal noted in July, authorities affirmed that China’s air quality continues to get worse, not better.
According to the NASA post, health officials say fine particulates can get past the body’s hair-like cilia defenses, penetrate the lungs and blood, and lead to chronic diseases, such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and bronchitis.
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The biggest drawback of living in Xi'an is its air. It's horrific. The mountains in the (not-too-far) distance cannot even be seen because of the omnipotent smog. When I lived there and was outside for too long on particularly gray days, the air made me feel like I was getting strep throat. When I used to ride my bike, I would wear a cloth facemask in a futile attempt at limiting the number of harmful particulates entering the membranes of my body.
There are plenty of things I miss about China and life in Xi'an. They greyness there isn't one of them. The fiery sunsets of the great plains are a new-found appreciation I've discovered upon coming back to the US.