Protecting Yourself from Air Pollution: 5 Things You Need to Know

Protecting Yourself from Air Pollution: 5 Things You Need to Know
Jan 07, 2016 By Cynthia Lopez ,

China’s incredible and rapid transformation has done wonders for the country’s economy. But along with the booming economy, the country’s residents have also experienced the effects of the country’s rapid industrialization. The reality is that people in China breathe dangerous amounts heavily polluted air. The air quality in China reaches hazardous levels many times throughout the year.

Breathing in heavy amounts of polluted air comes with several health risks, which include bronchitis, asthma, and even lung cancer. Minimising the amount of polluted air you breathe will help you decrease your chances of developing lung-related diseases. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five ways to help you deal with air pollution while living in China:

• Become informed about the daily air pollution levels

The more informed you are about the air quality, the better you’ll be able to protect yourself against air pollution. The Air Quality Index (AQI), also know as Air Pollution Index (API), Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) or Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), can be checked online. Countries tend to have their own air quality indices and they correspond with the countries own national air quality standards. One popular website among many is AQICN.ORG.

Being informed about the air pollution levels is especially crucial for those who already have lung-related problems. There are plenty of great, free apps on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, so there’s no need to pay for an app. One of our favourites is the China Air Quality Index app, and it’s free. Some other great apps are Global Air Quality and SimpleAQI.


• Purchase an Air Purifier

Some air purifiers can be more effective in filtering air than others. HEPA filters are the ones to shop around for; HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorption) filters must meet a government standard in order to be given this label. The government standard is that HEPA filters must remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles that are larger than 0.3 microns. We often hear the term PM2.5. PM stands for particulate matter, and PM2.5 refers to particles that are 2.5 microns in aerodynamic diameter, these are fine particles and they pose a significant health risk to humans because they can reach deep into human lungs. Another factor to be aware of when shopping for an air purifiers is the amount of air that the device filters based on room size and airflow rate.

An example of an effective, top rated HEPA air purifier is the Honeywell 99.97% Pure HEPA Round Air Purifier, 50250-S2005-09 (Honeywell霍尼韦尔99.97%纯净 HEPA圆形空气净化器,50250-S). It’s available on Amazon for delivery straight to your doorstep. A more affordable choice would be the Philips AC4025 (飞利浦 AC4025) air purifier. The air purifier comes with HEPA filters, and both the replacement filters and Philips air purifier can be purchased at Carrefour, your local electronics shop, on Taobao or Tmall.

Blueair air purifiers filter out 99.97% of airborne particles down to 0.1 micron in size, and they are available on the Fields China website (prices range from 3,890 RMB to 6,399 RMB). The Blueair Classic 510b (503) HEPA Silent Air Purifier (BlueAir空气净化器510B) is a good choice for filtering air in larger rooms (up to 54 square metres/581 square feet).

Most air purifiers have various settings such as sleep mode timers, or even alerts for when it’s time to replace the filter. Buying a replacement filter is easy; Tmall is usually a great source for finding filters and reading up on reviews.

Websites:,,, and
Prices: 699 RMB to 6,399 RMB

• Buy an Air Pollution Mask

Just like air purifiers there are countless types of air pollution masks out there. When shopping for a mask, make sure to look for one that has either the N95 or N99 label. An N95 label means that the mask can filter out 95% of particles from the air that are 0.3 microns or larger. If you already have lung-related problems you should consider using a mask with a N99 label. The N99 label means that at least 99% of airborne particles are filtered out. Masks with the N95 label can be purchased at your local Watsons or on Taobao. If you purchase them on Taobao, try the 3M N95 masks—they are effective and affordable.

Another air pollution mask option is the VOGMASK (威隔口罩). They are N99 masks, can be used for 2-5 months, come in different colours and styles and can be purchased on the company website, Amazon, or Tmall (prices range from 180 RMB to 225 RMB).

Another great heavy-duty mask is the Sportsta RESTO pollution mask (英国RESPRO防污染面罩运动系列). It has an N99 label and is suitable for doing outdoor activities. Replacement filters can be bought on the company website, Epermarket, or Tmall. Remember to do your research when purchasing air purifiers and air pollution masks. Read reviews, especially when buying items on Taobao.

Websites:,,,, and
Price: 15 RMB to 225 RMB

• Minimise Unnecessary Outdoor Time

The best way to protect yourself against air pollution when living in China is to limit your outdoor activities. Don’t go for a jog outside on days when the air pollution levels are high. Instead try exercising indoors. Go to work, and if you don’t need to go out again then stay home, keep your windows closed, and air purifier on. If you do need to go outside on days when the air pollution is high, make sure to wear a mask. And keep an eye on the air pollution levels via your app or on a trusted website. The more informed you are about the air quality in your city, the better you will be able to protect yourself against air pollution.

• Get Plants

Plants will not only liven up your apartment, but they’ll also clean the air indoors. Since the air outside isn’t always healthy, and it’s sometimes better to keep your windows closed, another problem you have to deal with is the toxins present indoors. Toxins that are emitted from items such as plastics, wood products, or household products. NASA researchers conducted the NASA Clean Study, which contained an extensive list of plants that remove certain toxic agents from the air. Here are a few of the plants from that list:

· Areca palm (botanical/scientific name: Chrysalidocarpus lutescens, Chinese name: 槟榔树, 凤尾竹)

· Red-edged dracaena (botanical/scientific name: Dracaena marginata, Chinese name: 红边龙血树)

· English ivy (botanical/scientific name: Hedera helix, Chinese name: 常春藤)

· Cornstalk dracaena (botanical/scientific name: Dracaena fragrans 'massangeana,' Chinese name: 中斑香龙血树)

· Peace lily (botanical/scientific name: Spathiphyllum 'mauna loa,’ Chinese name: 波士顿 蕨冷杉, 肾蕨)

· Spider plant (botanical/scientific name: Chlorophytum comosum, Chinese name: 吊兰).

You can find these plants at your local plant shop or at IKEA—the Spathiphyllum, Hedera helix, and Dracaena marginata and massangeana are available at IKEA.

Price: 9 RMB to 129 RMB

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Keywords: air pollution protection air pollution


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How long we will change our Masks...

Jan 26, 2016 00:18 Report Abuse



It sometimes becomes addicting to look at AQICN and check out the pollution levels of various Chinese cities. The only thing I don't like about that site is that they don't show averages or historical data, so it's more difficult to find out typical pollution levels in China.

Jan 18, 2016 08:32 Report Abuse



Another tip - don't breathe!

Jan 13, 2016 12:05 Report Abuse



So its now an article a week?

Jan 12, 2016 05:22 Report Abuse



Nice marketing for those air purifier brands.

Jan 09, 2016 15:03 Report Abuse



What a deal for the overworld: insure people spend and stay isolated

Jan 08, 2016 08:02 Report Abuse



It's a good article I'll give you that. But the only advice I'd give is that life is too short to be living in a places where the outside is a worry.

Jan 07, 2016 19:13 Report Abuse