Before the 1980s, Linfen was renowned for spring water, fertile farmland, lush vegetation and was dubbed the Modern Fruit and Flower Town. How times have changed. With a population now exceeding 4 million, Linfen has developed into a major industrial center for Shanxi province and the heart of China’s coal industry. Both legal and illegal mines choke the surrounding hillsides with dense plumes of soot. The city’s ecology, air quality and agriculture have all been grimly affected. It is a common maxim that laundry here becomes black before it gets dry.