The air in China will kill you. The air in China sucks. My wife and I get sick. Often we feel ill. I get strange ear infections, headaches, dizziness, and a general feeling of disgust. Occasionally we wear masks. Occasionally it helps. But it is hard to blame China for this.
The air is thick with a complicated relationship between Western consumption and the demand for the industrialization of China. When I left for China I knew what most of what western society understands of China. Chinese take out, bad air, cheap goods, and a huge population. I was never prepared for the amount of pollution that we live with. It comes in the form of raw sewage, untreated water, and brown air. Like a late fall evening with a dense fog and 10 feet of visibility. Fog, while annoying is just water vapor. The dense fog here translates to sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). All are bad, but the VOC’s are measured at 2.5mm(micrometers) PPM and 10mm PPM and reach insanely high levels. Generally all can be attributed to burning “dirty coal” which is another story.
30-40% of pollution in China can be directly attributed to overseas export of manufactured goods. A perfect example is what Monsanto did to East St. Louis (Monsanto-Sauget-Illinois). This is how Western Manufacturing treats China and the dying landscape.
Wal-Mart along with Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and McDonald’s all have store fronts in major cities. Walmart and hundreds of U.S. based company’s have their goods manufactured in China. The manufacturing and export of those good accounts for 30-40% of the pollution in China. Every foreign consumer and business that consumes China is liable for the pollution here. The blinders on the American and European consumer project China as solely responsible. When in fact it is how we purchase that ultimately makes a difference. While environmental laws and regulations are lacking in China, that reason is what brought manufacturing to China.