Air Pollution in China Facts | Better Know Your AQI

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Air Pollution in China Facts

If you are thinking about traveling or living in mainland China, then you’re probably concerned about pollution. While you’ve undoubtedly heard many horror stories about different types of pollution (water, food, sound), today we will focus primarily on the air quality in China and smog in particular.

To give some context first, you have to understand that China is a huge country that covers 9.6 million square kilometers. Pollution varies throughout the year and is affected many large scale factors. The first step is to get you accurate information about the locations you’re going to.

Air quality index (AQI)

Most people that live in or visit China are acutely of aware of the pollution. One of the first Chinese apps you should download is an AQI app.

Air quality index (AQI) is a number used by the government agencies to communicate to the public how polluted the air currently is or how polluted it is forecast to become. As the AQI increases, an increasingly large percentage of the population is likely to experience increasingly severe adverse health effects. In Beijing these are measured by the government’s environmental department at several location as well as independently by the US embassy.

You can check on this anytime you want.

If you prefer a web browser, check out Beijing Air Pollution: Real-time PM2.5 Air Quality Index (AQI) for example. This website delivers informations about the AQI of cities all over the world, including quick links to chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Hong Kong for example.

Not sure how good or bad the shown index is? Take a closer look and compare it with the index of cities all over the world where you have already been and made experiences. Maybe that helps you to get a better impression what you can expect.

For all the smartphone users out there are several apps available, which can inform you about the air quality in chinese cities. TutorMandarin would highly recommend the Airpocalypse AQI app for an informative but fun experience.


That said, Beijing, Tianjin and a lot of northern cities are much more polluted than their southern counterparts. Also, pollution tends to concentrate in the winter, when people are heating their apartments with electricity from China’s all too present coal-powered factories. Check out the wikipedia page or climate page of whatever city you want to visit.

If you’re really concerned about the air quality, you might take a look at a very interesting list, published by Greenpeace in 2014. This worldwide known and respected non-governmental environmental organization has developed a list of the 74 most polluted cities in China, which you can use when selecting your destination.

Nevertheless, if you are planning a short trip to get to know the country it is always worth it to give it a try. By the way: There are many beautiful spots besides the huge cities, that are worth it to do be visited and have a way air quality. For example Jiuzhaigou – China’s First National Park or Wulingyuan, which is a unesco world heritage and a lot of people know the area due to the movie “Avatar” by now.

Maybe you already have thought to learn Chinese language course during planning your trip? TutorMandarin offers both whole packages and single topic based lessons. Want to strengthen your language survival skills? No problem, we can fix that!

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