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Smog Vortex Takes Over Beijing (PHOTOS)

China’s air–pollution issues have gone from bad to worse as the country, home to more than a billion people, faces what has been described by some as ‘a nuclear winter.’

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

People wear face masks as heavy smog blankets Shenfang in Hebei province, on an very polluted day December 20, 2016.

China Stringer Network / Reuters

People wearing masks ride among heavy smog at a street crossing in Binzhou, Shandong province, China, November 13, 2016.

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

Women wearing face masks wait for the bus on an extremely polluted day with red alert issued, in Langfang, Hebei province, China December 19, 2016.

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

A man cooks in open air as heavy smog blankets Shengfang, in Hebei province, on an extremely polluted day with red alert issued, China December 19, 2016.

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

People ride a bus on an extremely polluted day with red alert issued, in Langfang, Hebei province, China December 19, 2016.

China Stringer Network / Reuters

Pigeons fly in heavy smog during a polluted day in Beijing, China, December 19, 2016.

© Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

Kong Ning wears a wedding dress decorated with 999 face masks for her performance-art work Marry the Blue Sky as she poses for a photo in front of China Central Television headquarters on a hazy day in Beijing in November. Wearing a 10-meter-long wedding dress decorated with face masks is a part of Kong’s performance art work which signifies her frustration with air pollution.

Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

A heating station chimney is seen through a hole in a steel wall at a Beijing construction site in December 2014. Awareness of the dangers of Beijing's skies is on the rise, thanks to growing data on its air quality. A tougher environmental law took effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

A woman wearing a protective mask makes her way on an extremely polluted day as hazardous, choking smog blanketed Beijing on Dec. 1.

China Stringer Network

A policeman looks at a car that fell into a pit after crashing through a brick wall, on a hazy day in Xianyang last month. Local police said the accident occurred when the driver could not see the road clearly.

Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

Visitors wearing protective masks take a selfie Dec. 1 in front of the National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest.

Liu Chang/Legal Evening/Reuters

Both clad in masks, a man and his dog take a walk despite Beijing’s heavy smog.

Reuters

A residential compound barely clears the thick smog in Wujiaqu, China.

Petar Kujundzic/Reuters

As the air quality in Beijing as well as surrounding regions hitting dangerous levels, a Chinese national flag in front of the Beijing Telegraph Building still manages to be visible through the haze.

Reuters

Despite authorities introducing anti-pollution policies and pledging to clean up the environment, China’s acrid smog problem has not improved. This pollution crisis envelops entire cities, as can be seen here in the Shandong province.

Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

With smog continuing to be a serious problem for people like the man pictured here in Beijing, one person in China’s Hebie province has taken matters into his own hands by suing the government for failing to curb air pollution.

Alex Lee/Reuters

The view of the city below from the 70th floor of a skyscraper in China’s central business district in Guangzhou is barely visible thanks to a thick haze that has settled on the area. According to an emergency response plan on heavy air pollution, an odd-even ban on car use will be implemented during a red alert of air pollution, which means air quality index (AQI) exceeds 300.

China Daily/Reuters

One can’t help but wonder if this mask-wearing woman exercising outdoors in Fuyang, China, is doing more harm than good to her body? As hazardous air pollution has hit many parts of the country in recent days, China's environmental watchdog ordered greater efforts to issue early warnings for air quality. But that doesn’t appear to be keeping people from going about their normal routines.  

Jason Lee/Reuters

Vehicles drive on Beijing’s Third Ring Road on a very hazy winter day in January 2013. Microscopic pollutant particles in the air have killed some 8,600 people prematurely in 2012 and cost $1 billion in economic losses in four Chinese cities, according to a study by Beijing University and Greenpeace. The study calls for pollution levels to be cut down to meet World Health Organization guidelines, which would reduce deaths by over 80 percent.

China Daily/Reuters

Heavy smog currently engulfs about 15 percent of the country in China, including Beijing where this child with a respiratory illness receives treatment in a hospital.

China Daily/Reuters

Merely crossing the street becomes dangerous as severe smog continues to shroud major cities in northeast China. Average visibility is less than 16 feet.

Wei Yao/Reuters

The air pollution levels in the sky above Tiananmen Square during the National People's Congress in Beijing are seen in this combination picture taken on the dates March 6-15 (L-R) in 2013. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged the following day that his government would "show even greater resolve" in tackling China's festering pollution crisis, a source of increasing public fury. Air quality in Beijing has mostly stayed above "very unhealthy" and "hazardous" levels.