The Random Writings of Rachel: Air Pollution

Air Pollution



Fashion Rule: Always match your mask to your shirt. Or was it your belt to your shoes? I can't seem to remember at the moment.

ShenZhen isn't one of the worst cities in China for air pollution, but we've certainly experienced elevated pollution levels since moving here. We check this map and this site regularly for daily reports of pollution levels where we live. Red is bad, purple and brown are even worse. If you're curious at all about the situation of air pollution in China and around the world, I encourage you to check out those sites and explore to look at the parts of China that have a much bigger problem with pollution than ShenZhen.

We check pollution levels in order to determine our plans for the day. Angel avoids going out for a run when we're in the "red." As we understand it, on days when the pollution is especially bad, it's a good idea to stay indoors and not participate in outdoor aerobic activities that cause you to breathe at a higher rate.

When we have to go outside on days with comparatively high levels of pollution, we wear masks. Before we moved to China, I researched and decided that Vogmasks would be best for what we were wanting to get out of a mask, so we purchased those. We have the microfiber version, not the organic cotton version, because microfiber is best for filtering out the industrial pollutants that concern us the most.

When we first arrived in ShenZhen, the rainy season was in full swing, and pollution levels were comparatively low. Now, it no longer rains constantly, and pollution levels have been consistently high. We've been here such a short time, and have not experienced any negative health effects, but pollution of this sort means long-term exposure to citizens. I will say that living in a city of 10 million has caused me to become much more proactive about reducing my own personal contribution to consumption and waste than I ever was before.

Have you ever had to deal with elevated pollution levels? What are your strategies?

19 comments:

  1. This aspect of living abroad in Asia has been very interesting to me, because I would never choose to live anywhere that had to deal with such terrible pollution problems. However from the way you write about it, it seems like you were obviously prepared and knew what you were getting yourself into. Does living in a more polluted area of the world bother you? Was it all a factor in where you chose to move?

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  2. You do do a good job at matching your masks! Sorry to hear about the pollution--sounds terrible!

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  3. The masks are adorable....I didn't realize there were options (but I'm glad to hear it!)

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  4. Love the matching face mask plan :) We have been dealing with air pollution from the volcano off and on for the past few months. The levels in our area aren't too bad but some other parts of the country have been dealing with high levels for months!

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  5. Glad to hear you're not feeling any health effects yet! Just be careful - the pollution definitely affected me in different ways during my years abroad.

    My first year in Korea, I pretty much had a cold/sinus infection every six weeks because of the air. I was always more susceptible to such things when I was younger, though. There was a "Yellow Dust" period in the spring when the air was particularly bad. The second year there, I didn't get "sick" but sometimes I'd just have a random, lingering cough or get chest pains from walking on the street on particularly bad days. Hiking in the city was a definite no for me. Really, more foreigners should embrace the face masks!

    I didn't get sick at all in China - guess I just got used to pollution, plus I only went hiking in the countryside - but I blame the air and water for my super heightened skin sensitivity and allergies. I probably have the lungs of a sometime smoker now but such is life.

    I don't have any strategies other than the face mask though. There's really not much you can do to shield yourself; you just have to be conscious of the effects.

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  6. I honestly haven't even thought of this before. It makes sense not to go running with high levels. I really wish people would be more aware of waste. I feel like soon enough this will be part of life in the US as well. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but still.

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  7. Every time my husband went to China he complained about the air quality. He never wore a mask though. I can imagine that living there it would be a huge concern.

    We do have smog days in Toronto that most often happen when it is the middle of summer, super humid and a hot air mass sits on top of the city pushing down any type of pollution. They also advise on those days not to run outside, especially if you have asthma or allergies like I do.

    My husband takes transit into the city and we don't drive very much. Pollution is a world concern.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  8. Love the matching mask even though it kinda stinks you even need to wear them!

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  9. wow this is SUPER interesting, thanks for posting the link to the map too. it's crazy how there are only a handful of places in the USA where it's in triple digits and then in some places in china it's over 700! i could feel in beijing my throat feeling a little scratchy but other than that, i never tried to exercise outside anyways (because how can you run in a city filled that that mean people). glad you are taking precautions!

    ps. your mask is the most fashionable mask i've seen!

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  10. so I just noticed the mask matches your eyeglasses as well, Rachel! Love this insight--I never really think about things like that, having had clean air all my life. Sounds very tough!

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  11. This is really interesting. I have never been in area such like this. Is it often that you go there?

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  12. To be honest this terrifies and saddens me. I love your masks and I realize it's your reality - but dang. It absolutely makes me think twice about how much pollution I contribute to our ozone.....and it makes me even more grateful than usual to come from the big, wide, open US of A. Harsh reality that I appreciate you sharing with us!

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  13. Thanks for this post. I have heard that pollution levels are very high in parts of China, but didn't realize that masks would be such an asset. I'm glad you haven't felt the effects just yet, and glad you are keeping yourselves informed (and that you've found a website with fashionable masks).

    XOXO

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  14. oh my gosh -- culture shock! your plan for pollution is similar to mine for winter weather - checking this and that to see whether the puffer coat needs to come out. and even though i'm sad and shocked that you've gotta wear the mask, i'm giving you kuddos for the stylish pink :)

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  15. There is perpetual haze in many big cities in China. I'm glad you both have got fashionable masks to match your outfits.

    RYC: Hello Rachel. I think Penang Hokkien is very different from Singapore coz I couldn't quite understand it. Just like Hokkien in Taiwan, I couldn't understand it too. I think they sound a lot more refined than our Singpore Hokkien.

    Jo
    Jo's Jumbled Jardinière

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  16. Wow I had no clue it was that bad - to have to wear masks that's pretty serious! How long do you guys intend on remaining in China? Maybe move to a city with less pollution :P Stay safe and glad you were prepared with the masks! Have a great one Rachel! -Iva

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  17. I live in Salt Lake Valley in Utah. We are a higher elevation valley and because we are a valley, we get a lot of clouds in the winter. The air become very stale because the clouds trap it (like the green house effect). Thus, if we have cloudy days in the valleys in the winter without snow or rain, the air pollution becomes very bad (but nowhere near as bad as China). We call it inversion. On those days, my minor asthma acts up, the air even smells stale, and children have indoor recess. That is why the state government is pushing carpooling and using public transportation to help with the air pollution in the winter.

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  18. Air is an important thing you should concern. Everyday you need air for breathing. Polluted air can cause some health problems for you. It is a wise think to recognize all the matters related to air pollution and then you can decide which way to protect your family from it.

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