You've likely heard of the brownish-grey smog that darkens the midday skies of the Chinese city that some have started calling "Beige-jing," but Asia's urban air problem is probably more widespread than you think. As Bettina Wassener reports, information presented recently by Clean Air Asia, a regional network on air-quality management, reveals that of the 300 cities in 16 Asian countries surveyed, 70 percent suffer from pollution levels that "exceed even the most lenient of several targets recommended by the W.H.O."
“The economic rebound in Asia following the global economic crisis of 2008 has accelerated sales of both passenger and freight vehicles as well as power generation,” Sophie Punte, Clean Air Asia’s executive director, said in a statement. This “is putting pressure on urban air quality in the region,” she said.
"A study by the World Health Organization published in 2008 estimated that outdoor air pollution caused 1.3 million premature deaths worldwide per year, 800,000 of them in Asia," notes Wassener. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development the total number could reach 3.6 million by 2050, if more isn't done to curb pollution.