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Coping techniques for the world’s most polluted cities

Protective masks have become an everyday accessory in Beijing, where hazardous smog is common. (Kyodo /Landov)

Irritated eyes. Sore throats. Frequent coughs and colds. Compulsive checks of pollution indexes. Depression. Sona Patel reports for the New York Times that severe smog in the world’s filthiest cities is impacting habits and health.

Residents of places such as Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai and Delhi now contend with a new normal: consecutive hazardous air days. Times readers shared their experiences and coping techniques with the newspaper. Many routinely check pollution levels more often than the weather, and spend more time inside.

At international schools in Beijing, children know that two bells signal indoor playtime due to unhealthy conditions. In Mumbai, residents who can afford it choose air-conditioned taxis to avoid exposure to choking fumes in cabs that keep windows rolled down.

Purifiers and protective masks are considered essential, but remain cost-prohibitive to many. Homeowners constantly struggle to keep bad air from seeping in through leaks in doorways and windows. Some city dwellers routinely plan their schedules around pollution levels as if it were just another variable alongside temperature and sunshine.

New York Times

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