Beijing air pollution said to be “barely suitable for life”

Bad pollution in Beijing is nothing new but a new report sounds a dire note:

Severe pollution in Beijing has made the Chinese capital “barely suitable” for living, according to an official Chinese report, as the world’s second-largest economy tries to reduce often hazardous levels of smog caused by decades of rapid growth…

The report, by the Beijing-based Social Science Academic Press and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, ranked the Chinese capital second worst out of 40 global cities for its environmental conditions, official media reported on Thursday.

China’s smog has brought some Chinese cities to a near standstill, caused flight delays and forced schools to shut.

Beijing was hit by severe levels of pollution at least once every week, according to the 2012 Blue Paper for World Cities report. That was on top of a significant level of air pollution covering the capital for 189 days in 2013, according to city’s Environmental Protection Bureau.

While U.S. readers might marvel at this, it wasn’t too long ago that some American cities had a similar problem. Check out some of the pictures of 1940s Pittsburgh or read about the Donora Smog incident near Pittsburgh that killed 22 in 1948. Some of these issues persist today: Los Angeles, and other cities in California, still have persistent smog and particulate issues.

Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, again topped the charts for ozone pollution, and finished fourth for particulate pollution such as dust and soot, in the American Lung Association’s annual national air quality report card, released on Wednesday…

In terms of air quality, California as a whole dominated the list of the most polluted U.S. cities, accounting for seven of the top 10 for ozone and eight of the top 10 for annual levels of particulate pollution, the American Lung Association said.

Nearly 90 percent of Californians, or 33.5 million people, live in areas plagued by unhealthy air, especially in Los Angeles, the so-called Inland Empire region east of the city, the state capital of Sacramento, and the agricultural heartland of the San Joaquin Valley, the group’s study found…

However, many California cities have shown steady progress on improving air quality, particularly the Los Angeles region, whose ozone levels have fallen by 36 percent since the organization’s first State of the Air report card in 2000.

See some pictures of smog in Los Angeles over the years here.

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