Air pollution in Beijing

Smog in Beijing
Image Courtesy Bobak/Wikipedia

A surge of orders from Beijing over the last couple of days caught our attention. According to the customers, some from different Embassies there, the air quality in Beijing is the worst they have seen at this moment.

The Independent from UK posted “Index of air quality in the world’s major cities” which compiled data from AirNow, CITEAIR, and the American Embassy in Beijing. It confirmed that the Beijing air is the worst at the moment compared to cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai and New Delhi.

Particulate pollution, rising temperatures and a lack of wind caused the stifling smog, which reduced visibility in parts of the city to just 200 metres (yards), the Beijing weather bureau said in a report.

The American embassy in Beijing rated it as “Hazardous” on the 21st of February. Traveler going to Beijing is strongly advised to carry a good mask (seal your face).
Hopefully the situation will be improved when the wind starts to blow later this week.

Pollution Masks: Which Are Best?

BY DR. RICHARD SAINT CYR, ON SEPTEMBER 13TH, 2010

My Health in Beijing by medical blogger Dr. Richard Saint Cyr
My Health in Beijing by medical blogger Dr. Richard Saint Cyr

Real World Testing

I tried it around town for a bit, and the overall comfort is good. It definitely is less awkward-looking than the typical N95 with exhalation valves. I was pleasantly surprised with the seal and that my glasses didn’t fog up, although I got those mask lines on my face that other masks also cause. It’s relatively easy to keep on, with straps either behind the ear or behind the head (which always provides a closer fit).

I didn’t do any fancy technical testing with it, but on a bad, smelly day I put on the mask and instantly could no longer smell that pollution.

Also, there are a few other real-world advantages:

It’s not totally uncool-looking
It’s reusable and washable, and it’s easy to carry in a pouch (provided by them)
There are kids sizes
You can quickly cut the mask to fit better
The masks and filter refills are very reasonably priced

My Bottom Line

Totobobo didn’t pay me anything, and I get no income from them for this mention. I’m simply trying to find well-researched options to protect myself and anyone else from Beijing’s air pollution, and I’d be more than happy to review other masks as well and to publish the results. Last year I tried to find good studies on other brands, including Respro, but I found no well-designed studies on other masks. Does anyone have such information?

I think Totobobo is a good and affordable option for people. And a 135-fold drop in pollution is very impressive; even on an emergency day with the AQI over 500, the mask would bring your air to WHO-safe levels.

Member of Medical code of conduct
DR. RICHARD SAINT CYR is a member of "Medical code of conduct"