17 eerie photos that show just how polluted China's air has become

China PollutionREUTERS/China Daily

Although no one knows the exact amount of carbon that China emits each year, it's a well-known fact that the country has some of the most polluted air in the world. A recent study from UC Berkeley found that 4,000 people die every day because of complications from air pollution in China.

In March, Chen Jining, the country's minister of environmental protection, said that while China cannot hold back on efforts to address the pollution, the turnaround is not going to be immediate.

On November 9, the country was once again blanketed in acid smog from burning coal, breaking the record for the highest amount of pollution ever recorded in China. That weekend, the levels of airborne harmful particles were more than 50 times the number that the World Health Organization deems safe. The smog is estimated to remain lingering in the air throughout the rest of this week.

Here are a selection of photos that illustrate the escalation of China's pollution problems over recent years.

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A woman strolls through polluted air in front of a construction site of a residential compound in Wuhan.

A woman strolls through polluted air in front of a construction site of a residential compound in Wuhan.

Residential buildings are shrouded in a haze in Shenyang.

Residential buildings are shrouded in a haze in Shenyang.

Even the night skies are hazy over downtown Shanghai.

Even the night skies are hazy over downtown Shanghai.

In Harbin, a traffic policeman has to help navigate commuters. You can barely make out the headlights behind him.

In Harbin, a traffic policeman has to help navigate commuters. You can barely make out the headlights behind him.

The smoke billowing from a nearby steel plant doesn't seem to bother this girl as she reads on her balcony in Quzhou.

The smoke billowing from a nearby steel plant doesn't seem to bother this girl as she reads on her balcony in Quzhou.

A statue of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong stands tall in Shenyang.

A statue of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong stands tall in Shenyang.

Despite the poor air quality, cleaners work along the median of a main road in central Beijing.

Despite the poor air quality, cleaners work along the median of a main road in central Beijing.

People walk on the Bund, a waterfront area near the financial district of Pudong in downtown Shanghai.

People walk on the Bund, a waterfront area near the financial district of Pudong in downtown Shanghai.

A group of bikers wear masks while riding along a street in Daqing.

A group of bikers wear masks while riding along a street in Daqing.

This woman and a young boy also choose to wear masks while in Jillin.

This woman and a young boy also choose to wear masks while in Jillin.

Smoke from a refinery's chimneys and cooling towers rises above the skyline in Ningbo.

Smoke from a refinery's chimneys and cooling towers rises above the skyline in Ningbo.

A woman walks across the street during a particularly smoggy day in Changchun.

A woman walks across the street during a particularly smoggy day in Changchun.

Citizens walk across a bridge, their line of sight extremely short due to the thick smog.

Citizens walk across a bridge, their line of sight extremely short due to the thick smog.

A woman makes her way through traffic in Changchun.

A woman makes her way through traffic in Changchun.

High-rise buildings are shrouded in heavy haze all the way up to the top of the Qingdao development zone.

High-rise buildings are shrouded in heavy haze all the way up to the top of the Qingdao development zone.

The tops of these residential compounds in Wujiaqu just barely make it above the smog.

The tops of these residential compounds in Wujiaqu just barely make it above the smog.

An electronic screen's brightness shines through this smog in Shenyang.

An electronic screen's brightness shines through this smog in Shenyang.
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