The US Consulate daily monitors the air quality in major cities in China. They use the PM2.5 which measures the particulates in the air, basically measurable pollution. The different levels are:
Good (0 − 50)
Moderate (51 − 100)
Unhealthy for Sensitive People (101 − 150)
Unhealthy (151 − 200)
Very Unhealthy (201 − 300)
Hazardous (300 − 500)
This morning the air was 311. Most of us have Apps on our phones that show the daily reading of air quality. The air is the worse during the winter months when there is very little wind. Shanghai actually has better air quality than many, many parts of China. Beijing is particularly bad. In northern China, coal is burned for heating fuel and is actually free to the residents. Lots of manufacturing is based west of Beijing as well. Most cars, trucks and motorcycles run on leaded gasoline or diesel fuel.
The air quality and overall pollution is always a topic in the news here. The Chinese people are very aware of the toll the environment has taken over the last 10 years. It's a concern for us as Expats, but we will only be here a few years. I can't imagine if I had to live here forever.