Monday, January 26, 2015


The pollution outside has been bad. So bad I've only taken Hadassah out to play once in the past two weeks, and only go out for the bare minimum of required food and water. On Sunday night the AQI hit a high for us being here: 410! While trying to go to sleep, we felt light headed and short of breath until moving a second air purifier into the bedroom, which helped, though by morning the HEPA filter on one was black. The AQI usually hovers been 150 and 200 lately, though... still in the "unhealthy" and "everyone stay inside if you can" range.

Ryan, though, still has to go to work. The vog masks we had, while looking more stylish, caused him to have shortness of breath, so we ordered some 3M masks:

He faithfully wore these for a few weeks, though I've only worn them a few times... I know it's vain, but it sure messes up the hair for a woman! And... I just hate that it takes away the smile. (I'm smiling in the above picture - but can you tell?) It's still the primary way I communicate with others here, especially when I see them at a distance. Every time I wear a mask, I just feel sad.

So yesterday, Ryan walked through the door looking like this:

I really did wonder if the apocalypse had come!

His company just moved to a new building, and with less regulations on building codes and materials and what's healthy or not, the first day there nearly everyone wore masks due to the horrible smells and dust, and now most of them are working at the old office until stuff settles down. A co-worker and Ryan, though, just wore these gas masks. He now wears it to and from on his e-bike, too, as he says it doesn't give the shortness of breath other masks gave.

My biggest annoyance with them? It's impossible to kiss him right when he walks in the door! ;)

Hadassah has gotten better about letting us put a mask on her, but so far we haven't found one to fit well. The vog mask for her age keeps slipping off the ears, and the child size 3M masks is too big, often creeping up to high her eyes. It's discouraging, so I usually just keep her inside unless we have to go out for a quick essential.

I'm trying to remind myself that were we still in Iowa we'd have to stay inside anyway due to the cold, but with the temperatures in the 50* F range lately, it's hard to not get the urge to get out. And a breath of that cold, crisp, so fresh air we experienced last winter in Iowa sounds rather refreshing right now!

Where does the pollution come from? This wikipedia article lists a lot of causes (and is kind of depressing to read). This article particularly looks at Shanghai air quality. A coal burning plant is close-ish to where we live, and those contribute a lot in the winter as it is used to furnish electricity to the city. Car emissions are another big factor.

So, pray. For health (both Ryan and I have gotten sick and congested lately), for clearer skies, and for the people in leadership here in China to have wisdom and the follow-through to make changes to help clear the environment. I feel so bad for the Chinese people, who live with this. Do they wear masks? Some. Especially if they're riding on bikes. But more don't. The children are growing up with greater risks for cancer and lung problems. It's so sad to see.

May spring with cleaner air come quickly...

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