Beijing smog

Fresh, drinking water, safe food and clean air. We should be able to take these simple necessities in life for granted. 

But for those living in Beijing and many other Chinese cities, clean air is far from a given. Check out the above two photos snapped on different days from the 37th floor of a hotel building in Beijing, by photographer Peter Barwick. Beijing smog is not a pretty sight, and yet millions of Chinese people are breathing this every day.

Greenpeace recently took air quality statistics from China's Ministry of Environmental Protection and stacked up 28 of the country's economic powerhouse cities to reveal what exactly is going on. The results may surprise you. Find out why Shanghai is guilty of the country's biggest air polluting crimes, and yet it's Beijing that suffers appalling PM2.5 levels.

We also took the time to delve into just why the US consulate are releasing air quality figures that don't match up with the official numbers from the Chinese government. Who's telling the truth? And which figures matter?

Whether you're living in China, or in another city with a serious case of the smogs, there are lots of things you can do. Monitor the air, take public transport and wear a protective N95 masks (we've listed the three types of masks that work!)

Only together can we banish China's notoriously murky, grey skies to the history books.