Can China’s Air Pollution Really Be Seen from Space?

China’s air pollution can sometimes be seen from space, as it is visible in satellite images taken by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 2013. The thick air pollution, which is estimated to affect at least 30 Chinese cities, is thought to be attributable to the significant usage of coal as fuel. Satellite images have shown patches of smog that stretch more than 745 miles (1,200 km) across China. The particulate matter (PM) in China’s air has been measured at more than 14 times what experts consider to be a safe level.

More about pollution:

  • PM that is less than 2.5 microns, or about one-thirtieth the size of a strand of hair, can be hazardous to one's health because they are small enough to be ingested into the lungs.

  • The air quality index in Beijing, China’s capital city, has been measured at 1.5 times higher than the level that is considered to be dangerous to human beings.

  • Negative health issues attributed to air pollution are estimated to affect more than 100 million people globally.
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Discussion Comments


If there's a way to solve China's air pollution problem, the best solution to this would be to reduce using so much coal. Another commentator mentioned that the pollution is due to all the items that are made there. Maybe it would help if China shared their production tactics with other countries and parts of the world. Just food for thought.


In relation to the third bullet point, if air pollution affects more than one hundred million people globally, then I wonder how much it affects those who live in China. After all, the second bullet point notes that China's air pollution level is even higher than what's already considered dangerous to us.


Even though I've never been to China before, I think it's rather disturbing that its air pollution can be seen all the way from outer space. In my opinion, not only does it show how bad the world's pollution has truly gotten, but even more so, it really shows how China is one of the largest item producers in the world, if not the largest. After all, notice how most products that you buy in the store say "Made in China".

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