Showing posts with label Pollution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pollution. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Desire for Whiter Skin Possibly Connected to Vitamin D Deficiency in China

After mentioning the vitamin D deficiency she developed after moving to Beijing, Alyssa Abkowitz described a study indicating many others in China have the same deficiency:
A recent study conducted by seven Chinese hospitals across five cities found that more than half of the Chinese population suffers from the same problem. The study measured vitamin levels in more than 2,000 volunteers and found that only about 5% of participants had healthy levels of Vitamin D, which is crucial for strong bones and a healthy immune system. That’s compared to about 67% of the U.S. population whose Vitamin D levels are deemed sufficient, according to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
In a fact sheet for health professionals, the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. explains the important connection between sun exposure and vitamin D:
Most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet (UV) B radiation with a wavelength of 290–320 nanometers penetrates uncovered skin and converts cutaneous 7-dehydrocholesterol to previtamin D3, which in turn becomes vitamin D3. Season, time of day, length of day, cloud cover, smog, skin melanin content, and sunscreen are among the factors that affect UV radiation exposure and vitamin D synthesis. Perhaps surprisingly, geographic latitude does not consistently predict average serum 25(OH)D levels in a population. Ample opportunities exist to form vitamin D (and store it in the liver and fat) from exposure to sunlight during the spring, summer, and fall months even in the far north latitudes.

Complete cloud cover reduces UV energy by 50%; shade (including that produced by severe pollution) reduces it by 60%. UVB radiation does not penetrate glass, so exposure to sunshine indoors through a window does not produce vitamin D. Sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8 or more appear to block vitamin D-producing UV rays.
Unsurprisingly, the researchers in China suggest people spending less time outdoors and high levels of smog as causes for the large number of people with a vitamin D deficiency. But a possible contributing factor not discussed in the journal article exists as well.

In addition to people using mobile phones while driving motorbikes, this is something else I recently saw on a bridge in Hengyang, Hunan province:

young woman walking while holding a red bag over her head
I moved to the side just in time.

She was not hiding from my camera as she walked down the sidewalk. Instead, most likely she was trying to avoid the bright sun that day. I saw multiple similar examples, all involving females, just minutes apart on the same bridge. None of this surprised me in the least, since many women in China desire whiter skin or, at the very least, don't want their skin to become darker.

advertisement for skin whitening cream in Shenzhen
Advertisement for skin whitening cream which previously appeared in a set of scenes from Shenzhen

In addition to skin whitening cream for sale, a big business, in many parts of China it is common to see younger women using umbrellas outside on sunny days. When an umbrella isn't available, a variety of items, such as bags, extra clothing, and paper flyers, may instead be used as shields from the sun. So even if they are outside on a sunny day, they are missing out on a prime opportunity for vitamin D.

This type of behavior probably doesn't account for all of the researchers' findings, such as the significantly lower vitamin D levels for males in Beijing aged 49 to 59 years. Again, other factors such as time spent indoors and levels of smog likely play a role. Yet the well-established connection between UVB exposure and vitamin D levels, the prevalence of people actively blocking the sun's rays while outside, and the study's finding that vitamin D levels were overall "much worse among women and younger participants" make it more than fair to suspect the desire for whiter skin has contributed to China's vitamin D problem.

In the near future, I doubt many people who now prefer lighter skin would rethink their views and seek more outdoor UVB exposure, even if the air quality and their schedules allow it. Instead, as Abkowitz suggests, increased demand for vitamin D supplements and fatty fish, one of the better natural food sources for vitamin D, is far more likely. I can't imagine how much their prices would go up if they were found to also cause lighter-colored skin.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Day of Good Air

Today as I left Zhongshan, the air was "good" by U.S. standards for the first time during my month-plus stay there. For what it's worth, Zhongshan's air is much better on average than many other cities in China.

Later in the day after a 3 hour trip which included my bag coming into contact with somebody else's inadvertently-dispersed liquid that smelled like fermented rotten prune juice, I was able to enjoy a blue sky with clouds elsewhere.

clouds in a blue sky in Hong Kong

And as best I can tell, the air was "good" or close to it — not bad for Jordan Road in Hong Kong.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Perhaps There Aren't Cigarette Face Masks

I received a range of comments in response to yesterday's post about pollution face masks in China with a special hole for smoking cigarettes.

One person expressed their admiration: "That's pretty cool."

Another seemed humored: "Funny."

One suggested a modification: "They should make three holes in that mask or else they are re-inhaling the smoke from the cigarette. Better yet, how about not wearing the mask at all!"

And finally, one person expressed puzzlement: "I'm trying to figure out whether this is an April 1 post..."

Now seems like a good time to respond to the last point, even though I have not done so for similar posts in past years. Perhaps I can restore a tiny bit of harmony to the world. So, yes, the post was written in the spirit of April Fool's Day.

The person posing in the first photo is somebody I recently met. He was familiar with April Fool's Day, and after I explained what I had in mind he agreed to model the face mask using his cigarettes. I wouldn't be surprised if it was his first time to wear a face mask. The sign in the other photo is from a store in Zhongshan I fortuitously passed by yesterday. I didn't go inside, but it appeared they sold face masks and other products for construction-related purposes. All the quotes in the post were entirely fabricated. And if spoken as it would be in China, family name first, the fictional store owner's name, Renjie Yu, sounds like "April Fool's Day" in Chinese.

I have never seen anyone smoking while wearing a face mask. I wouldn't be completely shocked if someday I do though.

I suspect the seeds for the idea were planted about two years ago. While standing at a street corner wearing a face mask for the first time due to very heavy smog in Beijing, I looked to my left and met eyes with a man who was smoking a cigarette. For a few moments, we stared at each other in silence. We then went our separate ways after the crossing signal changed. It got me thinking . . .

And in addition to some humor, thought-provocation was one intended goal of yesterday's post.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Cigarette Friendly Design Breathes Fresh Life Into China's Face Mask Sales

In addition to having more smokers than the entire population of the United States, China also has dangerously high levels of air pollution. As more people in China show concern over the air they breathe, this creates an obvious problem. But when I was in Maoming, a Chinese city where people are familiar with pollution from chemical plants, one night I saw how ingenuity and China's frequently mentioned pragmatism had come to the rescue again.

young man standing on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette while wearing a face mask

A young man was wearing a face mask with a specially fitted hole so he could continue smoking while protecting himself from the polluted air. He was happy to speak with me, and in response to several questions said:
Maoming's air is bad. Everybody knows that. So of course I wear a face mask, even though they bother me. But one thing I couldn't accept about masks before was they made it impossible to smoke. Last month my cousin who sells face masks in Zhongshan told me about these. Now I regularly wear cigarette face masks and only buy through him. There are many low quality imitation masks being sold. I'm concerned about my health, and I know he will only sell me the genuine ones.
Since then, I have seen people wearing the cigarette face masks in Chinese cities as far apart as Hengyang, Chongqing, and Shanghai. Today in Zhongshan, I finally had the opportunity to visit the face mask store earlier mentioned to me. The first thing I noticed when I arrived was a sign displaying a variety of masks well-suited for China's air.

store sign displaying several heave duty face masks

Inside I met the store owner. He told me he was secretly thrilled about China's pollution since business had never been better for him. And he had this to say about the cigarette face masks:
Business was slumping a little bit until these masks came out. They were an instant hit in the neighborhood and word quickly spread. Many men like to smoke and sharing cigarettes is a regular way they bond. It's important! But smoking with a regular mask is too difficult. Cigarette face masks make it easy. One important feature is that they are N90 masks. They don't filter as much as the N95 masks, so it doesn't takes too much effort to exhale the cigarette smoke.
He is not alone in finding success with cigarette face masks. They are a trending top seller online at Taobao. There are also rumors that Red Star alcohol plans to incorporate them into its pollution themed ads and that Lesser Panda, a popular cigarette in China, may soon offer branded cigarette face masks. With neither pollution nor smoking likely to disappear in the near future, analysts expect the market to only grow.

As I was about to leave the store, the owner tried to sell me a jumbo pack of cigarette face masks at a "friend discount". I explained I didn't smoke, in part due to health concerns. He pointed out I wasn't wearing a face mask and asked, "What do you think is worse for you, smoking a plant or breathing China's air?"

I had no answer, and we had a good laugh. Now I am on first name basis with store owner Renjie Yu. And I also have 20 cigarette face masks to give to friends.

Added Note: Relevant additional information for something posted on this date.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Blue Sky in Zhongshan

Today Zhongshan had a blueish sky.

blue sky above a tower near the former residence of Sun Yat-sen in Cuiheng, Zhongshan
Watch tower near the former residence of Sun Yat-sen in Cuiheng, Zhongshan

It didn't mean Zhongshan's air quality was "good", but the air was significantly better than when I was deceived by a similarly blue sky in Shanghai.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Hazy Chongqing Evening

Yesterday, I shared a photo taken at sunrise of two buildings in Chongqing. For some imperfect balance, here is a photo taken 16 minutes after sunset on the same day.

Chongqing's Yuzhong district, including the WFC skyscraper, at night across the Jialing River

The Chongqing World Financial Center (WFC) is easily identifiable in the previous photo. Chongqing's tallest skyscraper also appears, near the center, in the above photo. More buildings in Chongqing's Yuzhong district, the Huanhuayuan Bridge with two trains on it, a giant video screen, and the Jialing River can also be seen. Based on the view, I thought air pollution conditions had significantly improved from the morning, but online figures indicated otherwise.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Another Smoggy View in Chongqing

Perhaps I shouldn't have left the previous post, which was about a coat's timely message and Chongqing's temperatures, somewhat hanging with a comment about bad air pollution.

I have mentioned Chongqing's air quality before, and probably will do so again, but, to bring a little more closure to the earlier post, here was a view this afternoon from the SML Central Square shopping mall:

view from top of SML Central Square in Chongqing looking towards the Yangtze River

The buildings barely visible in the distance are located across the Yangtze River. I can't say to what degree fog may have played a role in the haze, but, even though Chongqing's air quality improved over previous days, it was definitely bad today.

Maybe someday soon I will see a "Make it Fresh" coat.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dramatic Change in Chongqing

A scene I saw today captures some key aspects of what has and has not changed in Chongqing, China, between my first visit here in 2009 and my return six years later.

In January, 2009, when I visited the docks at Chaotianmen I took a photo of the nearly-completed Chongqing Grand Theatre across the Jialing River.

view of Chongqing Grand Theatre across the Jialing River in 2009

Today I took a photo of the now open Chongqing Grand Theatre from a similar location.

view of Chongqing Grand Theatre across the Jialing River in 2015

The photos show how Chongqing's reputation for its fog and smog, both likely playing a role today based on weather and pollution reports, has been long standing and well deserved. They also both show some of the many boats popular with tourists.

But the differences between the two photos are even more striking to me. Not only are numerous new tall buildings readily apparent in the 2015 photo, but a portion of a new double-decker bridge crossing the Jialing River with levels for cars and trains can be seen as well. And if you look closely at an enlarged version of the 2009 photo (click it), you may be able to spot the cable car, now no longer in existence, crossing the river.

Most incredible, what is captured in these photos represents only a small portion of the change I have noticed in Chongqing. More to come on this theme.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Very Unhealthy Whatever the Floor

What "Very Unhealthy" air looked like today from the 35th floor of a building in Shanghai's Xujiahui district:

View of buildings and air pollution from the 35th story of a building in Xujiahui, Shanghai.

"Hazardous" levels were reached a few hours later.

A few people wore face masks. Most did not. Some had a smoke.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Similarities of a Polluted Beijing and a Slowed Google

Yesterday, I saw Bill Bishop's photo of Beijing:

photo of a smoggy Beijing

Unsurprisingly, at the same time Beijing's air was reported as "hazardous".

Also at the same time, although my internet connection speed was good for regular access to China-based websites, it was extremely slow through the VPN I use to access blocked websites such as Twitter and Google. Here is what Google looked like for at least a minute when I tried to search for images of Beijing:

In this case, the grey placeholders for yet-to-load images seemed especially fitting. They didn't look very different from Bishop's photo or others of Beijing in heavy smog. Pollution blocking light makes one type of image common. Censorship blocking information helps make the other common for me. The visual similarity may be a coincidence, but once again there was a bit of harmony involving China's air.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Harmonious Chinese Air

Early this afternoon I noticed an especially harmonious moment in China. U.S. State Department facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu reported nearly identical "unhealthy" air quality readings at 1:00 p.m.: 154, 153, 156, and 154, respectively.

A 190 reading from Shengyang was less harmonious, though still in the "unhealthy" category.

My experiences of days with obviously bad air in each of these cities easily come to mind. I am also reminded of similar days in many other Chinese cities. Sometimes I expected it, such as in Shijiazhuang which I knew was in a region with many coal-based power plants and industries. Sometimes I did not, such as in Liuzhou which is set in the midst of incredible natural scenery. Now that hourly and daily information like the above is available to check, I wonder how many times in the past a blueish sky tricked me into thinking the day's air wasn't so bad. In other words, the overall air pollution was probably worse than I thought. And I had already thought it was pretty bad.

The above readings are just a snapshot of ever-changing pollution levels from single locations in only the few Chinese cities covered by the U.S. State Department. Yet their momentary similarity despite coming from very different geographic regions is at least symbolic of the fact that air pollution is a widespread problem in China—presumably not what the Chinese government has in mind when it mentions "harmony". Although Beijing may receive the most attention, avoiding it or even all of the above cities is not enough to have a good chance of finding regularly clean air there. You could even find worse.

A Blue Shanghai Sky's Blues

When I looked up while walking outside this morning in Shanghai, the blueish sky and light patches of white clouds encouraged me.

blueish sky in Shanghai

But like a day when I was "deceived by the sky" in Beijing, I learned the air quality was nothing to cheer:
In this case, Shanghai residents can't even say "at least it's better than Beijing", where instead of 163 the air quality index at the same time was "only" 115—still far from good.

For me, it's a reminder that, although they receive the most attention, the more obviously bad air days are not the only ones to be concerned about. More on this theme later.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Contrasting Air

Recently in China's capital:

Recently in an American small town:

Today I was in the latter location and did not have to wear a mask in Beijing due to an "airpocalypse" yet again. As I travel from region to region in the U.S. during a several-week trip, I have found the relatively clean air — something which once seemed unremarkable — to be so remarkable. And I appreciate it all the more.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Toast to Breathing Better Air in China

Last night I met two young men, both in their mid-twenties, at a bar / restaurant in Maoming's Maonan District in southeastern China.

two young men holding shot glasses in Maoming, China

After asking them where they had traveled, one said he had been to Beijing. I asked him for his thoughts, and his first and only comment was that Beijing's air was very bad. Later, he explained he didn't think Maoming had perfect air, but it was OK and much better than Beijing's.

About 2 hours away by bus today, I enjoyed the pleasant weather at a waterside park in Zhanjiang's Xiashan District.

park with large ferris wheel in Zhanjiang, China

I spoke to a man I met there who told me he had once visited California.

man raising both of his hands

While describing his travels, he suddenly exclaimed "The sky is very blue there!" He then pointed at the sky above us, which was not a strong blue but still bluer than many others I've seen in China, and said that Zhanjiang's weather and air is much better than either Beijing's or Shanghai's. He felt fortunate to be living in Zhanjiang.

In both cases, I made no mention of air quality or any other related topics before the candid comments. These are not the only times I've heard people in Guangdong, a province with pollution problems of its own, mention air quality as an important factor for them. For example, I have met a number of Chinese in Zhuhai who said they moved there for its better air. They are people you won't regularly have the chance to meet in Beijing or even Shanghai, because they don't want to be there. And they are a sign that not only is pollution "driving top talent away" from China, but it's also on the minds of some Chinese when considering where they live inside of China.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Small Scale Air Pollution: Blowing Gravel in Zhuhai

This afternoon as I approached a large street intersection, I came across a rather non-mellifluous sound and a scene somewhat like a miniature Beijing sandstorm.

dust cloud at an intersection in Zhuhai, China

I immediately thought of James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic. It wasn't because I am in Zhuhai, which Fallows has described as "a sprawling, not-universally-adored, tropical-coastal Chinese city that I have really come to appreciate on several visits" and possessing "surprising charms". Instead, I recalled that Fallows has a strong dislike (to put it mildly) of leafblowers. Today, blowing leaves would have been a welcomed alternative even though I, too, am not a fan of leafblowers.

man using a blower to move gravel and creating a large dust cloud on a street in Zhuhai

That a man was working in the middle of an unblocked section of a busy street probably wouldn't get most people's attention here. But it seemed more notable to see the man using a "gravelblower" in an attempt to clean up gravel while seemingly creating more of a mess than there was to begin with and creating a nuisance for people trying to cross the intersection or use nearby sidewalks. The photos don't do justice to the cloud he created. Even standing on the other side of the intersection dust got in my eyes and on my camera lens.

Given that the blower appeared to be more effective at spreading a huge dust cloud than moving gravel, it's hard not to believe there wasn't a better way. I suspect many of the passersby I saw would agree.

Here are a few more scenes:

people walking by a man using a blower to move gravel and creating a large dust cloud on a street in Zhuhai

a bus and truck going around a man using a blower to move gravel and creating a large dust cloud on a street in Zhuhai

bicyclist going through a cloud of dust caused by a man blowing graving on a street in Zhuhai

In places such as Shanghai, whenever the air is bad it is common to hear something like "at least I'm not in X", with X usually being Beijing. In today's case, I will say that it was easy enough to leave the Zhuhai gravelblower in the dust, and at least I was not in Harbin's nightmare.

Monday, September 23, 2013

An Original Claim About Smog in Hong Kong

I previously shared an example of an advertisement in Beijing which included a smog filled scene. In Hong Kong, another city where air pollution is problem, as I walked by a store selling cosmetics made by Origins, a US brand, I saw smog being used in a more explicit manner to promote a product:

Displays at an Origins store in Hong Kong stating "Turn city smog into pretty skin"

The Smarty Plants CC SPF 20 Skin complexion corrector featured in the display is available elsewhere, including the US. On its US website Origins claims that "Our super-smart antioxidant infused formula helps neutralize skin damaging effects of city smog and pollution." Of note, the site does not include the image of smog apparently transforming into flowers and the statement "Turn city smog into pretty skin" that can be found on the Hong Kong website and in the above scene (also seen in material for Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan):

As I walked away from the store what I most thought about was not the claim that smog could be turned into pretty skin but instead the implications that the display was a sign of how much pollution has become a part of everyday life in Hong Kong.

And it may also be a sign of how some people are trying to approach pollution pragmatically. Sometimes you just have to make the best out of a situation. As they say, "when life gives you smog, make smog flowers".

Friday, August 23, 2013

More Pollution in Shenzhen and Hong Kong

After first arriving in Shanghai several weeks ago, I noticed that the pollution levels were often worse than Beijing. But towards the end of my stay, there were several days with excellent air quality.

When I arrived in Shenzhen in southern China a few days ago, I doubted the thick haze I saw was simply fog and knew my brief respite from China's air pollution was over. Today I read about neighboring Hong Kong's especially bad recent pollution (via Michael Standaert):
Hong Kong’s air pollution index reached “very high” levels today as a tropical storm that passed through Taiwan trapped pollutants and blanketed the city in haze, triggering a government health warning ...

“Because of the typhoon, we don’t have any wind, the air now is like static, pollutants accumulate and they can’t get out,” Kwong Sum-yin, chief executive officer at Clean Air Network, a non-profit advocacy group, said by phone today. “Central is pretty bad, exactly because we have so many skyscrapers.”

The former British colony, which will raise its air quality standards, has never met its targets since they were adopted 26 years ago, according to a government audit in November. Hong Kong relies on the wind to help sweep away choking emissions from Chinese factories and vehicles.
In other words, things aren't as good when the wind doesn't send your problems elsewhere.

I will soon write again about pollution in China, so I will refrain from commenting further. For now, I will simply recommend checking out a NetEase slide show of photos by Alex Hofford. They are of mainland Chinese tourists taking photographs in Hong Kong and speak for themselves. See them here (via Shanghaiist and Beijing Cream).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Marketing in China: Drinking Red Star in a Smoggy Field

Imagine this scene: two people with bicycles on a narrow road passing by what appears to be a factory emitting copious amounts of pollution and contributing to the smog blanketing a nearby empty field.

Now consider the purposes for which you might use a black and white photo of that scene.

Did you think "that would be perfect to promote a Chinese brand of alcohol"? If you did, pat yourself on the back, because as I waited for a train to arrive at a subway station in Beijing I saw an advertisement for a brand of erguotou -- a type of liquor especially popular in Beijing.

advertisement for Red Star (Hongxing) erguotou

An article on Red Star Wine's website (in Chinese) describes the marketing campaign. No, there is no mention of a strategy to use images of pollution to drive people to drink. Instead, Red Star Wine believes it can connect with younger people by evoking a desire for brotherhood and by tapping into the popularity of nostalgic themes in China through the use of Soviet-style imagery.

Will it work? All I can say for sure is it motivated me, not exactly a main target consumer for Red Star, to buy a 150ml bottle (the smallest I saw) for 13 yuan (about US $2.10) at a local convenience store so I could give it a try.

On that note, here we go...

Not horrible. I definitely have had less positive erguotou experiences in the past. And to me the bottle looks trendier than most other similarly priced erguotous. I'm not sure I'll be tempted to buy it again in the future though. Maybe I should have tried it on ice.

I'm intrigued by the ad campaign and there are many questions it raises to me such as "Do the signs of pollution in the ad have any negative (or even positive) impact on its effectiveness?", "Could a similar strategy be effective for marketing erguotou in  the US, even if it may work for different reasons?", and "Why is the one man walking his bicycle?"

I'll save exploring those issues for another day, though, since I am now confirming something I earlier predicted to myself. Red Star has quite a kick.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Beijing Day in a Mask

Today I inhaled some of the cleanest air I have ever breathed in Beijing. No, the Olympics did not return to China. There was another reason.

Shortly after reading the article "1,600 Die Prematurely in Hong Kong As Smog Spikes", I noticed that the air quality for Beijing today was being described as "very unhealthy". I then felt sufficiently motivated to do something I had never done before: wear a face mask due to smog.

Fortunately, I did not need to make use of the "Filtering Respirator for Fire Self-Rescue" in my room, because the other day I picked up some 3M KN90 masks. In general, KN90 masks do not filter as much as the highly recommended N95 masks, but that was the best 3M mask available at 7-Eleven -- a convenient stop for where I am staying. I figured the difference between no mask and a 90% efficient mask was far greater than the difference between a 90% efficient mask and a 95% efficient mask.

So I donned my mask and went outside. I don't have any photos to share, but the air looked only a shade better than it did when I visited Tiananmen Square last month -- not very good. I had to fiddle with the mask to make sure it was properly sealed, but it was straightforward to wear. I must say, though, that I felt rather self-conscious. Eventually that feeling seemed to fade a little, and I didn't notice any more stares than usual.

Although people in Beijing may not be fazed by seeing someone wearing a mask, after passing hundreds and hundreds of people today I did not see another person wearing one. I've seen a very small minority of people wearing masks on other days, though, especially when the readings are in the "hazardous" category.

One of the first things I noticed about the mask was the heat it trapped around my mouth and nose. The weather was slightly cool today, so it didn't pose much of a nuisance. But I could imagine there'd be a bit of discomfort on hotter days. On the plus side, it might help keep your face warm during the winter.

The other thing I noticed was that some smells (particularly those I did not wish to smell) seemed to be more noticeable while wearing the mask. I would have thought the opposite would occur since the mask covers the nose. Perhaps the air pocket under the mask helps funnel up into the nose any chemicals which enter.

Although the mask provided a barrier to completely effortless breathing, the effect did not feel bothersome to me. This can be more of an issue with masks that filter a higher percentage of particles.

Maybe the biggest negative was that the mask was held in place by elastic straps which went around the ears. It was comfortable at first, but after several hours my ears felt sore.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the experience. If I were to stay in Beijing long term, I'd consider investing in a higher quality mask that does not anchor itself on the ears and does not make me look I just walked out of a hospital. Whatever the case, at least I breathed some cleaner air today.