If you live in Beijing, you don’t need us to tell you that the air can be, to put it mildly, pretty nasty to breathe. Although statistics are conflicted about exactly how many days of severe pollution Beijing experienced in January 2013, most would agree that it has been one of the worst months on record. One thing’s for certain: Beijing’s air is not going to markedly improve any time soon, so it makes sense to protect you and your family from the long-term health effects of air pollution.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) used to judge pollution levels is calculated according to the amount of particles of less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) in diameter that are in the air. These particles are of particular concern since they are small enough to enter the lungs and even the bloodstream. An AQI of over 100 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, but Beijing’s AQI quite frequently exceeds 200-300, triggering significant health concerns for all groups. While an air purifier will protect you in your home, more and more people are choosing to wear an anti-pollution mask while out and about.
Face masks (口罩) are widely available in Beijing at everything from local Chinese pharmacies to 7-11. However, many of these masks are only designed to provide basic protection from dust and cold and you will need to find a properly certified mask for long-term use. Read on for a round up of the most effective masks and where to source them.
1) 3M N95 Anti-pollution Masks
NIOSH-approved N95 masks are certified to filter out 95% of air-borne particulates. Many companies manufacture N95 products, but we favour 3M for their cheap, effective masks. They may not have the technological (or style) appeal of some of the other brands on the market, but they get the job done.
3M 9010 N95 masks are available to buy on Amazon.cn. We found a pack of five masks for 76.49 RMB but shop around for the best deal. Many of Beijing’s international medical centers and pharmacies, such as Beijing United Family Hospital, also stock N95-certified masks. Call ahead to check availability.
Beijing United Family HospitalView In Map
Add: 2 Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 010 5927 7000
See website for locations of other UFH clinics
2) Totobobo Anti-pollution Masks
Fitted with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, Japanese brand Totobobo’s masks have now become a favourite amongst long-term Beijing residents. HEPA-standard filters filter out 99.97% of all particles greater than 0.3 micrometres that pass through, making them ideal for Beijing’s smoggiest days. The masks are made of soft plastic that fits the contours of your face and can be easily cut to size (good for children).
Totobobo masks can be purchased in Beijing from Torana Clean Air Stores for 200 RMB. A pack of five replacement filters is 120 RMB. We also found Totobobo masks on Taobao, but be sure to check the seller’s credentials to ensure they are genuine.
Torana Clean Air (Shunyi store)View In Map
Add: Basement Level, Europlaza Mall, Tianzhu District, Shunyi
Tel: 010 8459 0785
Opening hours: Daily, 10:00-20:30
See website for details of Central Park store
3) Respro Techno Masks
UK-based Respro’s range of neoprene pollution masks has been designed with cyclists in mind. The popular Techno mask combines a HEPA-type particulate filter with an activated carbon cloth filter that absorbs gas and vapour pollutants such as Sulphur Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide.
A Respro Techno mask is around 369 RMB (or 32.99 GBP on the website), making it one of the pricier options, however it is a smart choice if you do a lot of cycling around the city. The filter provides protection for approximately 60 hours and replacement filters are available to buy in store or online.
Respro offers free shipping to global destinations (including China) through its website. Respro Techno masks are also available in Beijing at Natooke. Finally, Gowilds on Taobao stocks both masks and replacement filters.
NatookeView In Map
Add: 19 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 010 8402 6925
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Keywords: Anti-pollution masks in Beijing
Forget the band aids - we need a cure! The Chinese government needs to shut down the coal plants and give some serious rebates to people who buy electric cars. Factories should pay a $10,000 fine per every minute of emission discharge. Every university student should find a place to plant a tree and the price of gasoline should be doubled. This will solve the pollution problem fairly quick.
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