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HARD TO BREATHE

There’s a part of China where the air quality index registered an astronomical 999

China opens its new year with heavy pollutions all over the country, some places of which has seen an air quality index that's beyond measure.
Quartz/AQI
Red all over.
By Echo Huang
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It’s not just Beijing that is covered in smog. More than half of China is choking under pollution.

But one northern city especially stands out. At 3pm today (Jan. 6), Daqing, a city known for its oil and gas industry with a population of about 200,000, saw its air quality index (AQI) reach 999. A measure of 100 is considered unhealthy and 300 is deemed hazardous. At 4pm, however, the AQI fell considerably to 215. It’s unclear what accounted for the slide.

Hazardous index.

In the winter, China’s smog is especially bad in the north as cities burn coal for heat, one of the contributors to the country’s pollution problem. Many cities in China currently have an AQI of more than 200, and 31 cities have issued red alerts (link in Chinese), the highest pollution warning. Beijing, however, is still at an orange smog alert, along with 20 other cities, even though its AQI readings qualify for a red alert. This week, the city issued its first-ever red “fog” alert because of the poor visibility.

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