...I'd rather spend a week in Chernobyl (maybe not right now) than say a week in Beijing when the air quality is literally so bad it's worse than what the first responders at ground zero on 9/11 were breathing...
We solved nuclear waste decades ago, Kyle Hill, March 2022, 1+ million views.

I (and millions of others) live in Beijing, so looking out my window makes me highly skeptical. Also, New York isn't exactly known for its clean air (even putting 9/11 aside).

Question: Is (or was) the air pollution in Beijing worse than "what the first responders at ground zero on 9/11 were breathing"?

I'm guessing it stems from this September 2013 Atlantic article, which gives me an error message "Looks like you are offline: You'll need to check back here once you have restored your connection. Thanks for your patience." It's available from the Web Archive. Reading that article makes it sound like they asked many experts, many of which refused to answer saying it's not a reasonable comparison, and just kept asking until they got the answer they wanted.

Air pollution in Beijing was likely far worse back in 2013, so it could have been true back then. But things have changed due to the pandemic, due to the Winter Olympics, and due to the use of green energy. Oh, and there is a big difference between pollution in the winter and summer due to heating.

1 Answer 1


Surprisingly, this is pretty easy to resolve:

9/11 First Responders Face A High Cancer Risk But Are Also More Likely To Survive

At first it was "pitch black," Cascio recalls. "We couldn't see anything." A dust cloud swirled around them. "We were literally engulfed by it."

Beijing was never that bad. Note, however, that this is describing a peak, not a steady state, and no first responder spent a week in such conditions.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .