Some tips for dealing with recent skyrocketing AQIs
In general, Shanghai’s air is cleaner than other Chinese cities. But recent high Air Quality Index (AQI) numbers have everyone worrying. The AQI is a measurement of the particulate matter in the air with standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Chinese equivalent of the AQI is the Air Pollution Index (API). PM or particulate matter is the measurement of the size of the pollution in micrometers. PM10 means particulate matter 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller, which at that size can enter the lungs. Another indicator: PM2.5 is particulate matter small enough to cross into the blood stream, therefore more dangerous and a much better indicator of the severity of the pollution. Due to increased and severe pollution in mainland China, the government has been prompted to release PM2.5 levels in some Chinese cities. The increasing numbers are alarming and CCS would like to provide the following tips for our community.
- Indoor Air Control: close doors and windows but keep air ventilated through a filtering mechanism (your heating system should have a filter that attracts the dust before releasing air into the room). Remember to clean these filters much more frequently than the manufacturer suggests. In addition, using an air purifier (or several) inside your home will reduce the smaller particles missed by the air filter.
- Wear a mask: any type of mask will provide an additional layer to attract dust before it gets to your nose and mouth. The best masks are those than can block PM2.5, the smallest particles.
- Avoid or reduce you time outdoors: plan your itinerary and route more carefully; reducing the amount of time you have to stay outdoors.
- Wash your hands, face and nose as soon as you return from outside: this way you remove the dust and particles on your face and hands.
- Breathe through your nose, keeping your mouth closed; our noses have natural mechanisms to catch dust, while breathing through the mouth will take polluted air directly into your throat and lungs.
- Avoid outdoor exercise: the deep and fast breathing required to support exercise can increase the amount of PM2.5 entering your lungs. If you exercise indoors, make sure the facility’s indoor air has been filtered.
- Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fiber rich foods to help the body eliminate pollutants faster through natural circulation.
- Get more rest; it not only boosts the immune system but when we sleep, our breathing is at its slowest, therefore decreasing the rate and amount of pollutants that can enter our lungs.
“Air & Water 101” is a cover story from That’s Shanghai Urban Family magazine which is an excellent overview of air and water in Shanghai. www.thatsmags.com/shanghai/download/view/13915