The Soot Road

This interactive map of the “Soot Road” depicts my route across China, the country’s major oil and gas pipelines, coal deposits and mines, and urban air pollution in major cities in 2006. Air pollution is measured according to the PM10 index, which refers to fine suspended particulate matter (PM) less than 10 microns in diameter that are capable of penetrating deep into the respiratory tract and causing significant health damage. The United States’ national air quality standard for PM10 is 50 µg/m3. By comparison, the most polluted Chinese city in 2006 was Lanzhou at 193 µg/m3. During my journey, I visited or passed through a dozen cities with PM10 levels higher than 100 µg/m3.

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