The Cleanest Place on Earth – and the Dirtiest – Angela Palmer

Photographer Angela Palmer once had a dream in which she visited the most polluted and the cleanest cities on earth wearing white outfits which were then exhibited side by side. Determined to make the experience reality, she traveled to Linfen, China and Cape Grim, Tasmania, and writes about the experience in the Guardian:

Research into the world’s most polluted place pointed to Linfen, a city 485 miles (780km) south-west of Beijing, lying in a bowl in Shanxi province’s coal-mining region. Linfen was named by the World Bank last year as having the worst air quality on earth. It features alongside Chernobyl in the Blacksmith Institute’s list of the 10 most polluted places in the world and tops the list of most polluted cities compiled by China’s own state environmental protection authority.

In contrast, Cape Grim, at the north-western tip of Tasmania, lays claim to both the cleanest air and water in the planet.

…After I had captured the air from Cape Grim in my flask, I tried to talk to the locals in Smithton, the nearest town, a 20-minute drive away. I had hoped to document the parallel lives of people living in such different atmospheric conditions, but while my pristine clothes and air filters remained unblemished, so did the pages of my notebook. The Tasmanian reserve was daunting. Barely a soul was in the street. People were tucked away in their houses behind net curtains. Picket fences surrounded properties. Perfectly manicured gardens were adorned with plastic swans. I began to feel lonely, and, as the days passed, to yearn for the sense of community that had been so electrifying in the streets of Linfen. [Full text]

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