Flickr photo NYC smog by y smith_cl9 Back in January, Beijing, China experienced off-the-charts air pollution that forced residents indoors and smudged out the entire skyline. It’s easier to ignore environmental problems when they’re half a world away, but what if your own city views were obscured by a noxious soup?

Using side-by-side photos of Beijing and sliders, Marketplace.org created an “obscurity filter” that lets viewers see how big cities around the globe would look with a similar polluted haze.

Pictures from Paris would look a lot less romantic, New York City’s iconic skyline would get lost in the smog, and Toronto’s growing collection of skyscrapers would be erased. The filter’s not scientific, but it’s definitely cool (and more than a little bit scary).

Marketplace.org explained the pollutant nitrogen oxide is largely responsible for the brown colour of the smog while PM2.5 particulates effect visibility.

Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District in California, explained to website why these pollutants are so dangerous.

“The very tiniest of [PM2.5 particulates] can even pass through the lung tissue into the blood stream. That’s why PM2.5 has been associated with a wide-range of health effects, including thousands of premature deaths every year in California,” he said.

If you want to see your own city skyline clouded by a Beijing-like haze, tweet a photo of your city to @MarketplaceAPM.

For more info on the “obscurity filter” check out the full article here.

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