Maybe you've read about the 5-day pollution emergency going on around Beijing. Nothing new, really; the other teachers say last year was a lot worse. In general November and December was pretty nice this year. (There were at least as many nice days as bad days.0
But for the last five days it's looked about like this:
Schools have technically been closed since the weekend, but since we're a boarding school outside of the city, quite a few kids ended up staying here. We just recently installed air filters in all the rooms, and mostly we've been sitting around with the kids watching movies.
(A couple of my colleagues out enjoying cigarettes in the pollution emergency.)
I have to say, although I'm in general fond of the apocalyptic, after five days of this, I'm feeling pretty shitty. It's really one of the creepiest and saddest things I've ever seen -- people walking around bundled up like they work in an asbestos factory, the sun a little forgotten smudge in the middle of the opaque blanket of pollution.
Of course I have an air filter in my apartment, and then I recently bought a hand-held pollution sensor which I have all kinds of fun playing with. (It goes off the chart if you fry bacon next to it, I found.)
Here's the reading last Sunday, standing by an open window, about 12 times higher than acceptable levels:
I noticed that my air filter can pretty much handle only one room at a time, so if you live in China you're probably wise to have one for each room: