With the current levels of pollution, it might be healthier to sit in your car for hours in a traffic jam and let the air filters do their work rather than breathe in the polluted air as you cycle around Beijing.
The smog seems to have just enveloped the city, making it dangerous for people to even go outdoors.
The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center is recommending that children and the elderly stay indoors.
Local media has reported a sharp rise in people seeking treatment at hospitals in the capital for respiratory problems.
The pollution figures at the moment are staggering.
Pollution is measured in the amount of small particulates in the atmosphere. According to the Beijing authorities, measurements show the air containing more than 700 micrograms per cubic meter in many parts of the city over the weekend.
To put that into context, the World Health Organization considers it safe to only have as much just 25 micrograms per cubic meter.
There has been some controversy recently over whether the local readings were accurate or if officials were trying to understate the problem by giving lower readings.
Last year, U.S. diplomatic missions in China were giving their own air quality readings, and they were very different from the official Chinese accounts.
In response, China announced it was illegal for foreign embassies to issues their own readings.
But the U.S. has said it would continue tweeting air pollution levels in China, as they were helpful for US nationals living and traveling abroad.
The U.S. Embassy in Beijing tweeted over the weekend that its hourly readings were “beyond index.”
The highest number it got on its data was the equivalent of a massive 886 micrograms per cubic meter.
“This is really the worst on record, not only from the official data but also from the monitoring data from the U.S. Embassy — some areas in (neighboring) Hebei province are even worse than Beijing,” said Zhou Rong, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality index would easily categorize pollution readings taken by the U.S. Embassy as “emergency conditions” with the whole population at risk.
The World Health Organization thinks 25 mcgs is too much? Pansies. China’s pushing 1000, and they look fine to me.
Well, they would look fine if I could see them. But if you’re young and you’re healthy, what do you care if you can chew the air?
A study by Beijing University and Greenpeace showed that the premature deaths of 8,600 people in four Chinese cities in 2012 cost $1 billion in economic losses.
China might have stumbled (in the dim light) across the solution to an oversized and aging population.