Toward the end of last year, China's environmental authorities issued a red alert across 23 cities in northern China as air pollution rose to levels 50 times above what the World Health Organization deems safe. Schools shut down, traffic halted, flights remained grounded due to low visibility, and wealthier urban dwellers, dubbed "smog refugees," ran off to the countryside to catch their breaths. In an effort to clear the smog, the government shuttered over 1,000 factories in the region, a large portion of which produced steel. Many of those factories have since been abandoned, but the air, at least, has gotten a little cleaner.
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