Coming from a beautiful clean(er) state of Wisconsin, I had never had to deal with smog issues. Smog was something I saw on the TV or heard about but never directly affected me. Now after living in Beijing, China for the past 4 months I realize what smog is all about. Some days calling it fog just to trick myself into not having to face the harsh reality that the pollution here is quite toxic.
Just a few days ago Beijing had reached top pollutant levels in the air…hazardous levels to be exact. How scary is that? I am breathing in these toxic particles into my lungs everyday. People were warned to stay inside, especially elderly and children, but quite honestly I value my lungs just the same and would have preferred to stay indoors as well. At work I asked my chinese translators, “what do you think of this smog? It’s at toxic levels, did you know that?” Teresa replies, “smog? What is that? Do you mean fog?” and I said “no I definitely mean smog, you know toxic ‘fog’ in the air it is at dangerously high toxic levels” and again she did not know what I was talking about. No one did. Scary.
Looking out your window you can sometimes barely see across the street, or the next buildings over. Megan from R&R has the building game. What kind of day is it today Ms. Megan? And you may hear her reply, “it’s a two building day” which means that it’s a pretty smoggy day and you can only see a few buildings over. If she replies, “a seven building day” well WOW you have a pretty clear day here in Beijing.
It’s scary that everyday these people live with breathing in this air. They are so proud and conscious of being healthy yet the one thing I believe to be most important, air, is the dirtiest in the world. Still utilizing coal as their main energy source, dumping trash on the streets, and adding pollutants into the air everyday I can only imagine things will get much worse (which scares me).
Living here you can see the beauty in this country but you can see the desolation. Everyday I walk to work I see people sweep trash, glass, and food scraps into the street for… “pickup” (even though I’ve never seen this pickup truck). Every day when I go to work I hear “eat your mushrooms they are healthy for you” or “this is chinese medicine” or “wear layers so you are not cold” … and now I’m more confused than ever as to why they aren’t addressing the real issues they have on a day-to-day basis. Is it just ignorance?
Either way, today I will go to work with my facemask on praying that my lungs continue to stay strong and healthy and while I’m here for the next year I will hope everyday that I do not accumulate anything dangerous inside them.