If you have never heard of an air quality action day, you are most likely a perfectly typical resident in the U.S. who is also lucky, the latter of which you may have been taking for granted. Because a hazy day like July 20, 2017 in Manhattan almost never happens. (Hazy is not the same as “foggy.”)
As an air quality expert with years of experience monitoring China’s polluted cities, I can say with authority that most U.S. cities are light years better off than Chinese cities like Beijing or Indian cities like New Delhi. In Beijing, for example, pollution many times worse than New York’s July 20, or an air quality action day, happens at least monthly for more than a decade. [Watch below for visual and statistical evidence of the air quality difference, and to evaluate my authority on this subject matter.]
Nobody likes pollution, even if it is a relatively mild one compared with the worst places in the world. But to put things in perspective, we are so lucky compared with hundreds of millions in China and India. At least, we are not choking in excruciatingly acute smog that you could tell just by the smell of the air.