12 am on a Saturday I arrived in Shanghai to find probablly the worst Pollution Smog I have seen in the 17yrs I have spent in China. This was a Beijing problem although the pollution levels in Suzhou and Shanghai did rise quite high they have never been this bad. The readings from the Shanghai Index (Most expats have a pollution index app on their smartphones) were pm2.5 at 635. Anything beyond 500 is what is known as ‘Beyond Index’ or in the early days of the US Embassy’s pollution monitor ‘Crazy Bad’. To put this into perspective London’s average pm2.5 is between 10 and 30, and as a Norweigen friend tells me often their pollution peaks at around 5.
Where is this pollution coming from, well there are literally millions of farmers burning off crops, and also coal fired power stations and factories with few emmission controls and of course the literal explosion in private car ownership over the last 10 years. So on what should be a bright cold winters day you find yourself wishing the wind would pick up and or the rain would come to clear away some of the pollution. Unfortunately for those of us who chose to live here it is one of the other things that you need to manage (Specialist masks, Air cleaners in the house). For a photographer apart from the images of the smog it is either a studio day or no images because the smog drains everything of colour, although there are times that this can give a simplicity to an image as in the one below.