Air Pollution, Visualized

The New York Times created a visualization of air pollution that allows comparisons between local conditions and the worst air pollution in the world.

December 5, 2019, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Air Pollution

New Delhi, India, pictured in November 2019. | Amit kg / Shutterstock

Nadja Popovich, Blacki Migliozzi, Karthik Patanjali, Anjali Singhvi, and Jon Huang are credited on this one-of-a-kind data visualization, which brings home the reality of air pollution.

Scroll through the article as floating particles make the point about air quality in cities around the world, and the air quality during events occurring with more frequency, like the Camp Fire in Paradise in 2018.

But even the Camp Fire can't compare to the reality in New Delhi, where air pollution reached "apocalyptic highs" last month. The causes and effects of air pollution are summarized thusly:

This fine pollution mainly comes from burning things: Coal in power plants, gasoline in cars, chemicals in industrial processes, or woody materials and whatever else ignites during wildfires. The particles are too small for the eye to see — each about 35 times smaller than a grain of fine beach sand — but in high concentrations they cast a haze in the sky. And, when breathed in, they wreak havoc on human health.

Monday, December 2, 2019 in The New York Times

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