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Shanghai residents share images of record-breaking pollution

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Several hours ago, the people of Shanghai, China, awoke to a morning so choked with pollution that the air quality index rose above 500—off the chart, that is. Visibility in the noxious, record-setting haze was cut to 50 meters, flights were grounded, and cars ordered off the road. 

Two separate Reddit threads emerged with frontline accounts and snapshots of the eerie, post-apocalyptic atmosphere that shrouded the city. In the first image, the photographer reports, “the building you can barely see is about ¼ mile away.”

“Shanghai citizen here, could see smog fog inside the school corridors today,” another redditor reported, while another confirmed that many people had gone home early to avoid breathing the hazardous admixture. Even in a photo taken the previous night, dense fields of dust are illuminated by the streetlights.

More photos, a few of which resembled abstract Rothko canvases more than actual cityscape, rolled in on Twitter.

Bad as it was—the AQI sat well above the range where healthy individuals start to experience wheezing, coughing, and other symptoms—you couldn’t say the weather caught people by surprise. For some, it just made the daily commute a little more dramatic.   

Photo by Marc Osborn/Flickr