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Polluted Rockefeller Center
Photograph: Courtesy of HouseFresh

See how air pollution could ruin the view from the Rockefeller Center

You'd hardly be able to see anything anymore.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

It's one thing to know about the negative effects of air pollution, and it's an entirely other thing to actually see those effects take shape in the world around us.

In an effort to really drive home what could happen if human-caused air pollution levels continue to increase as they have, air purifier website HouseFresh has released a study that includes photos of views from iconic landmarks around the world, including the Rockefeller Center in New York City—each one emulating the visual effect that air pollution might have on them.

"When the first 2020 lockdown struck, a temporary bonus was the drop in air pollution," reads the survey's introduction. "The view through our windows seemed freshly polished. Tourist attractions shone with an intensity unseen for decades. Environmentalists keenly told us that this was a wake-up call, not a turning point. Despite decades of campaigning and policy change, air pollution is still worsening for more than half the world’s population."

To create the interactive displays, the HouseFresh team basically emulated the visual effects that pollution has on the skyline of Ghaziabad, India, which is often ranked as the most polluted city in the world. To be specific, the pollution level in Ghaziabad is 18.2 times the World Health Organization's air quality guideline value. Yes, that's a lot.

As explained in the study—which also takes a look at Hong Kong's recognizable Victoria Peak, the Montparnasse Tower in Paris, the Shard in London and St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, among other landmarks—the repercussions of smog are even more massive than you might think at first.

"As early as the 1960s, the eroding effect of air pollution on [New York City's] buildings was cause for concern," reads the survey. "Today, the Department of Environmental Protection suggests that 6% of NYC deaths are connected with air pollution."

You can play around with the interactive photos depicting sights around the world right here and, below, find the image of our very own Rockefeller Center: 

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