About 70% of China's power comes from coal, a dirty form of energy. Last winter, the level of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, in Harbin air reportedly reached 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter, exceeding the level set by the World Health Organization by a factor of 40.
The smog shut down roads, schools and the airport. Visibility was reduced to less than 20m in some places. It is not that bad at the moment, but it was obvious starting last week that the air quality is severely compromised. The air is acrid and breathing is more difficult. We have started wearing face masks, although I don't know how much they help. I am concerned for my poor lungs, but I get to go home in a month or so. What if you lived here all the time and the haze hangs around six months of the year?