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Urban pollution

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A reliance on coal for power and heating, factories spewing untreated waste into the atmosphere, growing numbers of vehicles, and the sheer density of the urban population all conspire to make Chinese cities some of the most polluted on earth. Black sludge fills canals and streams; buildings are mired by soot; blue sky is only a memory; the population seem permanently stricken with bronchitis; and acid rain withers plants. In summer, the worst spots are the Yangzi valley “furnaces” of Nanjing, Chongqing and Wuhan; winter in Xi’an, on the other hand, features black snow.

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