The Brutal Reality of Life in China’s Most Polluted Cities

Food for thought: these past two years during the winter (coal-burning season in the far Northeast) we woke up coughing in the middle of the night as though we were choking to death.

Respro® Bulletin Board

IT’S ONE THING to read about air pollution contributing to more than one million deaths in China, or about how one-third of its rural residents lack access to clean water. But it doesn’t seem quite real until you see the people behind those statistics. Photographer Souvid Datta provides a glimpse of their lives in China: The Human Price of Pollution, revealing the people living in smog-choked cities and drawing water from grimy, polluted rivers.

Datta, who’s only 24, started the project partly for personal reasons. When he was 17, a Chinese friend died of lung cancer, a disease doctors said was exacerbated by the poor air quality in Beijing. The death hit Datta hard and sent him on a journey to help people understand the human cost of filthy air and water.

“Pollution is often an abstract or statistical issue, remote and unsexy for news readers and editors,” he says. “The work had to evoke a sense…

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