Friday, June 28, 2013

When Beijing's Air Makes Fire Equipment Look Tempting

During the past 24 hours Beijing's air quality has often been in the "hazardous" range. The U.S. Embassy's readings for the Air Quality Index (AQI) posted on Twitter topped out at 477.

To provide some context for the 477 reading, the "hazardous" AQI range is from 301 to 500 and includes the advice "Everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion."

When the reading was "only" 455 earlier in the day, I passed an elementary school as students were leaving. Nothing appeared unusual and most of the students were not wearing any sort of mask.

students leaving elementary school in Beijing
Hopefully not exerting themselves

This evening as I considered whether to head outside, I wished I had purchased a reliable mask during my recent time in the U.S. When I mentioned this to a friend, she suggested I look around my hotel room to see if they provided a mask.

To my surprise, I found one.

"filtering respirator for fire self-rescue" which covers the entire head

The air is so bad that I considered making use of the "Filtering Respirator for Fire Self-Rescue" even though it is "made for escaping in the fire disaster". I imagine it would give the hotel staff quite a jolt to see me walking out wearing it.

But after noticing it is only good for a single use, I decided to save it. After all, in the next few days the air could become "crazy bad".

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