Are surgical masks effective against pollution?
Friday, 25 April 2008,
Written by Trouni
You might have seen many Chinese wearing surgical masks in the streets
to protect themselves against pollution and you probably already asked yourself: are these masks really effective against air pollution?
These masks are not suited against pollution and the main reason is simple:
these masks are designed to protect others from droplets you might spread.
When these masks are
tested, the filtration is measured from the air you exhale and not the one you
breathe in. Even if they can slightly reduce the risk of infections through
droplets, they are definitely not a suitable solution against air pollution.
Quoting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), part of the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services:
”Facemasks are loose-fitting, disposable masks that cover the nose
and mouth. These include products labeled as surgical, dental, medical
procedure, isolation, and laser masks.
Facemasks help stop
droplets from being spread by the person wearing them. They also keep
splashes or sprays from reaching the mouth and nose of the person
wearing the facemask. They are not designed to protect you against
breathing in very small particles. Facemasks should be used once and
then thrown away in the trash.“
If you are sick during a flu pandemic you should definitely wear a
facemask to prevent the
spreading of the virus. But otherwise, if you are seeking effective protection against a
polluted environment or a flu pandemy, you will definitely need a respiratory mask.
Measures for green Olympics
Thursday, 17 April 2008,
Written by Trouni
Beijing announced last monday some measures that will be taken against pollution to bring "green games" to the athletes this summer. The measures will officially be in effect for two months (from July 20 to Sept. 20) and will include:
- two-months halt of construction (even spray painting outdoors will be banned)
- traffic restriction to ban half of Beijing's 3.3 million vehicles during the Olympics (Aug. 8-24)
- 19 heavy polluting factories will be forced to either reduce pollution emissions by 30 percent or stop activity
Since most of Beijing's pollution is due to emissions from surrounding provinces, Du Shaozhong also mentionned that some of these measures will also take effect in five provinces and municipalities around Beijing (Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Inner Mongolia).
During the press conference, Du Shaozhong also said:
"Just tell everybody they don't have to worry."
Well, I guess athletes and tourists don't have to worry for the games period, but what about Beijingers like me who are still exposed to heavy pollution everyday?
Sources: International Herald Tribune, Aujourd'hui la Chine (article in French)