Chen Guokang stares at the camera with yellowed eyes. The 51 year old has been diagnosed with lung cancer, which has since spread to his liver and resulted in jaundice (hence the change in eye coloring). Guokang hails from Sanjiang Village, which suffers severely from water pollution.
These children smile while their elders, both deceased due to respiratory problems, watch over them.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, 20 percent of Chinese farmland is polluted as a result of industrial policies, farm chemicals and lax environmental regulation.
Arsenic and cadmium have been listed as the primary pollutants.
A hazy dawn near a Ningbo textile factory. Chinese media, academics and NGOs have estimated that there are 459 cancer villages within China.
A steel factory in the outskirts of Beijing creates a waste-filled lake.
Waste enters this Yinzhou lake early in the morning. According to an annual report released by China's Ministry of Land and Resources, 59.6 percent of underground water cannot be used directly for drinking.
The dyes in textile factories often enter waterways, making them blue or purple. They invariably fill them with a number of hazardous chemicals that will be ingested by Chinese who rely on waterways for food and drink.
A woman from Yanglingang Village retrieves water from the Yangtze river. In the past decades, factories have erupted along the river, contaminating it with waste from power and chemical plants, as well as that of paper-making factories. Since the Yangtze, along with the Yellow River, cuts across China, the water pollution is not confined to a specific region. Once the rivers reach coastal cities, the water must undergo a number of treatments before it is potable.
Factory discharge pipes snake around public thoroughfares and into waterways.
An environmental activist surveys pollution levels in wastewater ditches near chemical plants in Wuli Village, Hangzhou City.
A couple looks out to chemical-filled water, used for fishing, near Wuli Village.
Featured above is a cancer victim from Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province. He believes his cancer was caused by water pollution. Many others in his village, located within the vicinity of handfuls of waste-emitting industries, are also stricken with cancer.
Cancer village resident Wang Jinlan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, only for it to return again four years later at a far more advanced state. Four months after this photo was taken, Wang died.
A doctor aids two cancer victims who live together on a boat. The woman, featured on the left, decided to stop seeking treatment. Her husband suffers from esophageal cancer.
Featured above is Guan-yin, a woman whose husband died of stomach cancer and for whom she's fighting in her anti-pollution efforts.
Chinese news agency Xinhua released a sobering figure in June 2013: six people are diagnosed with cancer every minute.
In 2014, the Chinese Environmental Protection Ministry noted that 71 out of 74 Chinese cities monitored did not meet environmental standards.
Pollution is always near in Wuli Village.
Many have dubbed China's pollution problem the "airpocalypse", with Beijing becoming "almost uninhabitable" due to pollution.
Smoke snakes through the air in Shaoxing Binhai's Industrial Zone.
Smog makes mornings and afternoons indistinguishable in many parts of China. Featured here is Wuli Village, Zhejiang Province.
Retirees practice Tai Chi on a hazy morning in Fuyang city, Anhui province.
For many growing up in China, like these kids in Beijing, smog-filled skies are the norm. This has grave implications: toxic smog not only contributes to the four million cases of cancer in China each year, it's also responsible for the closure of schools and can impede photosynthesis, which has the potential to disrupt China's food supply.
Beyond its impacts on health and food supply, toxic smog hampers security. Beijing officials have shown concern that smog may render surveillance cameras useless, effectively inviting individuals to commit crimes with the knowledge that smog will conceal their identity.
In one attempt to combat the air pollution problem, the Chinese government has used artificial rain to disperse smog in populous cities. Of course, enforcement is tricky: since local governments rely on tax revenue from polluters, they aren't inclined to push them too hard for reform.
In February 2013, the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection included "cancer villages" in its five-year plan. This was the first time they had been mentioned since 1998, when the concept of cancer villages was first introduced.
Cancer rates in China are rising, and while the exact cause is not known, those aged between 20 and 40 are being diagnosed more frequently than any other age group.
In Beijing, some schools have gone to extraordinary lengths to combat the "airpocalyspe", spending over $5 million on a pair of domes to cover their campuses and give students a sense of "normality" beneath the plumes of smog.
A trash-filled frozen lake in Xingtai, China's most polluted city. In 2013, the city of 7.6 million people had only 38 days when its air quality met national standards.