It is not a secret that China has problems with air pollution – we already mentioned this fact in our article Tips for your first trip to China. The Chinese Government tries to do everything to solve this issue, but there are no instantaneous solutions and unfortunately for us, Shenyang is not the city with the best air quality. We are situated in the north of the country, so the coal used for heating blows lots of dark gray smoke into the atmosphere. Also, there are countless of factories around the old industry hub Shenyang. And there are millions of cars, smokers and outdoor barbeques and other things that influence the emissions. November 1st (this Tuesday!) is when the communal heating system – powered by that dirty dirty coal – is switched on. So this day will bring us a great deal of thoroughly annoying pollution. Smog is quite dangerous to humans’ health – it causes problems such as headaches, heart disease or cancer.
If you are still reading this and have not started to pack your bags to flee the country, you should know that it’s not as scary as it sounds. Everything you need is to follow some simple instructions to protect your body from the dust in the air. With this article, we want to share our knowledge to ensure your well-being during the winter in China and especially in Shenyang.
The first thing you want to do is to download special applications onto your smartphone – the ones that show you the air quality. AirVisual (iOS&Android), Airpocalypse (iOS), Air Quality China (iOS&Android), China Air Quality Index (iOS&Android) are rumored to be the best – but there are many others you can find in the AppStore or on GooglePlay. Check them before leaving the apartment to know if the air quality is good or not. Here is a table to help you interpret the Air Quality Index and know how dangerous it is for your health:
In every app, you will see the A.Q.I. in the appropriate color.
Next step is to buy a good face mask. In China, it is not a problem to find them. The most difficult thing is to find one that is of really good quality. First of all, you should know that medical masks do not protect your lungs from smog. Of course, they are cheap and some Chinese people wear them, but they will not protect you at all. There is a special standard for the masks you need – N95; If you see a mask with the sign N95 somewhere – that is what you need. These masks usually are made with a soft material and have a special valve. Choosing these masks, make sure that they fit snugly, if there are holes somewhere, the street air will get inside the mask and it will become useless.
China is a country where you will find a lot of crazy, funny things. Protective masks are no exception. Here, you will see people wearing masks with their favorite cartoon characters from childhood (or EVER), weirdly-shaped or –designed ones,…. So feel free to have some fun looking at the people around youor buying something similar for yourself.
If you do not want to hide your pretty nose, you can buy nose filters instead (but you cannot talk or open your mouth with them, as otherwise, the air gets in and then you might as well not have bothered in the first place.
Now you know how to protect yourself outside, but what about your home? Are you sure that the air there is good enough for living?
There are special devices to measure air quality at home – so-called air quality monitors or 空气质量检测仪 – from a range of Chinese or foreign brands. Usually they are rather small and look pretty enough, so you will easily find a place for them in your home.
If you have determined that you need to improve air quality in your apartment, there are two ways. Firstly – portable air purifiers. There are about a dozen different types, but the best one for you would be HEPA air purifiers, because they remove dust, pollen, mold spores, dust mites, and other allergens that are in polluted air. Please note that portable air purifiers clean the air only in one room, not in the entire apartment. So, you will need one for each room. The other way is to hook your heating or cooling system up to whole-house air purifiers and cleaners. To install those, however, you will need professional support. With portable purifiers, it is as easy as with masks – you can find them everywhere: both in online and offline shops. Usually, they are rather big, but with their modern appearance, they can easily integrate into your interior design concept.
In our high-tech heavy times, we often forget about very simple but equally useful low-tech alternatives. I am talking about plants. We all know about plants’ functions from our school lessons – they clean the air and give us more oxygen. In this case, you can also use plants to clean the air in your apartment. Below, we have collected for you the list (including Chinese characters) of the best air-filtering houseplants according to NASA:
Now you can easily go to the flower market (or any other shop) and find something that you like, which will look pretty in your apartment and improve your air quality at the same time.
You have the whole weekend to prepare yourself and your apartment for winter time. So hop to it!
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Written by Inna Mironova