Millions in China Learn to Live With Smog ‘Airpocalypse’

As smog levels in northern China reach historic levels, millions are learning to live with what has been dubbed “airpocalypse.”

“Physically, if I don’t wear a [face] mask when I go out I feel dizzy and have problems breathing,” Jiang Yuwei, 23, a student at Beijing Foreign Studies University told NBC News. “Even if I wear a mask, I still feel quite depressed. During smoggy days, my mood is ruined and that I don’t want to go out or work.”

As many as 32 cities in northern China were under “red alert,” the most severe pollution warning in the country’s four-tier system, earlier this week. Another 27 cities, including Beijing, were under “orange alert.”

China uses the Air Quality Index as a measuring stick for gauging the level of air pollution. The levels go from 0-500 and measure six atmospheric pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone among others. Once the Air Quality Index surpasses 200 for three or more days, it’s an “orange alert”; once it’s surpassed 300 for two consecutive days or 500 for any one 24-hour period, a city is under “red alert” and Chinese authorities recommend all physical outdoor activity be suspended.

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