12 Shocking Photos That Reveal China's Pollution Problem

12 Shocking Photos That Reveal China’s Pollution Problem

China is a fast-growing country with an annual economic growth rate of over 10 percent. Although the country is filled with beautiful natural landscapes, some parts are densely polluted. The world’s most populous country has a major problem when it comes to usable water, polluted air and birth defects. The pollution has worsened in the past couple of years and people even have a word for it: “smogpocalypse”. The ecological problems are something people have to deal with in some parts of China.

Notorious clouds of smog present health risks to anyone not wearing dust masks and illegal dumping in various rivers throughout China is fairly common by the locals. Here are 12 images that will completely change the perspective of China and how pollution impacts its citizens.

1. China has fake backdrops of skylines placed around the city for tourists.

Hong Kong, Backdrop, China, Photo, Photography, Fake, Fact, Facts, Pollution, Polluted, Smog, Smoke
Image via Petapixle.com

Backdrops are painted cloth, hung at the back of a theater stage as part of the scenery or used for photography as background prop. Several places in China are filled with smog, making it impossible to see or take pictures. As a solution, many tourist spots are equipped with backdrops for visitors to take pictures with.

2. Fishermen rowing hard through the algae-filled Chaohu Lake in Hefei, Anhui Province.

Algae, China, Pollution, Water, Lake
Image source: Jianan Yu

The image above looks like an oil painting by some famous artist but it is in fact a real image of fishermen working their way through the algae-filled Chaohu Lake in Hefei, Anhui province. The photo, which was taken on June 19, 2009, has since gone viral. In response, the Chinese government has invested 51 billion yuan ($7.4 billion) towards the construction of 2,712 projects for the treatment of eight rivers; including the Hefei river.

3. The smog in Beijing is so thick that people have to wear masks. Currently, the small-particle pollution is 40 times higher than the international safety standard.

Smog, woman, walking, pollution
Image source: Kyodo News via denverpost

Smog is a kind of air pollution, originally named for the mixture of smoke and fog in the air. Beijing is currently facing a massive smog problem, leaving people with visibility less than half a football field. Asthma attacks are one of the several leading health issues rising from small-particle pollution.

4. A poor child drinks water from a polluted stream in Fuyuan County, Yunnan Province.

Water pollution, child, drinking, water, waste, sewer
Image source: Reuters/Stringer

While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Pollution in China has soared within the past few years, causing a shortage in drinking water. The image above was taken near a stream in Fuyuan county, Yunnan province on March 20, 2009.

5. A boy swims in algae-filled water in Qingdao, Shandong.

Boy swims in algae
Image source: Reuters/China Daily

Algae grows when it has the right conditions; such as adequate nutrients (mostly phosphorus, but nitrogen is important too), light levels, pH, temperature, etc. According to the Washington State Lake Protection Association, algae can function as indicators of water pollution. The vital group of bacteria and plants in aquatic ecosystems is an important component of biological monitoring programs for evaluating water quality. For example, increases in water acidity due to acid-forming chemicals that influence lake pH levels, as well as heavy metals discharged from industrial areas, affect the composition of genera that are able to tolerate these conditions.

6. Journalist taking a sample of the red polluted water from the Jianhe River.

Red polluted water, researcher, test, pollution
Image source: Reuters/Stringer

The above image captured on December, 13, 2011, shows a journalist taking a sample of red polluted water in the Jianhe River in Luoyang, Henan province. According to the local media and several other sources, the pollution is caused by two illegal chemical plants discharging their production wastewater into the rain sewer pipes; turning the water red.

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