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Let's take a look:
Those two cities are Salt Lake City in the United States and Beijing in China. It's much worse in China right now. First a look at Salt Lake City. The good news is, the pollution that had been trapped in this basin city dissipated somewhat by Sunday and things got a little better. That's because of snowfall that came into the area. The bad news for residents and visitors is that it's expected to be back to dangerous levels once again because of inversion. That's when cold temperatures move in and trap the pollution in the city.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had singled out the greater Salt Lake region for much of January as having the nation's worst air. A group of doctors has signed a petition calling for measures to reduce emissions from vehicles and industry. So far the governor of Utah has refused to issue any kind of degree.
Now to Beijing where it is much worse. Residents there have been choking on toxic smog. China's air hasn't been this bad since 1954. The Air Quality Index from the U.S. Embassy shows dangerous particles in the air have been hovering at the top of the scale since last Friday. The range is described as hazardous and there are calls for corrective measures.
Visibility in downtown Beijing is down to 100 yards or less. More than 100 flights have been canceled. Many residents are wearing surgical masks, but doctors say it's not enough. Some residents have taken to wearing gas masks.
The smog is being blamed for a sharp rise in respiratory illnesses, particularly among children and the elderly. A pediatric hospital in downtown Beijing has treated a record 9,000 children this month.
In China, the number of online searches for the word mask has jumped by a whopping 5,300% compared to last month. The government is warning residents to stay indoors. They also shut down 103 high emission factories and ordered 30% of the government fleet of vehicles off the street.
Some wonder if this is our future, why we're waiting till it gets to this before we do anything about it.
I also invite you to check out Brian Mudd's Cheat Sheet.