Urban Fold

What It's Like to be a Child in China's Polluted Cities

Chronic coughs, stuffy noses, and face masks whenever you venture outside. Edward Wong looks at the "hell" that is childhood in China's polluted cities, which is forcing some affluent families to leave, and giving foreigners pause before entering.

"Levels of deadly pollutants up to 40 times the recommended exposure limit in Beijing and other cities have struck fear into parents and led them to take steps that are radically altering the nature of urban life for their children. Parents are confining sons and daughters to their homes, even if that means keeping them away from friends. Schools are canceling outdoor activities and field trips. Parents with means are choosing schools based on air-filtration systems, and some international schools have built gigantic, futuristic-looking domes over sports fields to ensure healthy breathing."

“'I hope in the future we’ll move to a foreign country,' Ms. Zhang, a lawyer, said as her ailing son, Wu Xiaotian, played on a mat in their apartment, near a new air purifier. 'Otherwise we’ll choke to death.'”

"Few developments have eroded trust in the Communist Party as quickly as the realization that the leaders have failed to rein in threats to children’s health and safety," adds Wong.

Full Story: Pollution Is Radically Changing Childhood in China’s Cities

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