For example, the daily average pollution levels across all particulates being tracked in my city (PM 2.5/10, CO, SO2, NOx, and some others) have been several times that of the highest levels on the dirtiest day in London's history for the last 10 years.
If we compare, say, our daily averages taken on the dirtiest ~1/3 days in a year to the most polluted day in London's recent history, the ratio goes to something like 10-200x, depending on pollutant.
You'll never see it mentioned in big news outlets though. Who would give a damn? It's certainly not London.
People do give a damn. Unfortunately governments around the world aren't often leaping to take effective action. It's the same with environmental issues in general.
Beijing is a health resort compared to where I am located. At least my friend claims so (he spent about 3 months there on a business trip back in 2011.)
I know of at least 3 cities in my country suffering from extreme air pollution. You won't find any news articles about any of them.
I plan to take a lot of pictures during the upcoming winter, because almost no one on the English-speaking segment of internet believes that there can be so much pollution in the air, that it reduces visibility to 10 meters.
It's all because of the old Soviet heavy industry which hasn't been properly maintained since 1991 (say what you want about USSR, but there was more responsibility then), crappy gasoline, lots of old cars which made their first 100k miles in Germany or US, high sulfur coal being used in stoves... the whole shebang.
Did I mention that some people use cow dung/rubber/plastic rubbish in their stoves?
Yep, we're living on the same planet as you are.
This is a widespread issue. We are heavily dependent on the Government on almost every issue, and people seem to want to be more dependent on them. But the question is, what can we do about it that would be effective when we are getting pressure from all fronts because of misplaced power, and financial incentives?
But the real problem is London's narrow, busy streets with heavy motor vehicle traffic in very close proximity to where Londoners live, work, walk, go to school, etc. Anyone who spends much time in Central London is spending a significant portion of their lives in close proximity to the exhaust fumes from thousands of vehicles daily, so exposure to toxic pollutants in London is much worse than many measures of average air quality suggest!
On the bright side, there has been a noticeable improvement recently thanks to initiatives like the Central London ultra-low emission (ULEZ) zone, and the increasing numbers of electric taxis replacing the old diesel ones. One major area that still needs improvement is the buses - there are now some electric buses, but still far too many old, polluting diesel ones.
Those parts are usually in the same economic stage that London was when it had a similar air quality.
When a society crawls its way out of crushing poverty, there are more important things to use the new resources for than air quality. Once those are taken care of, all known societies have fixed the air situation.