We’re pretty sure that Beijing’s smog isn’t great for us, and guess what: it’s not. According to a recent article in The Atlantic, rates of asthma in China are up a whopping 40 percent in the past five years, and it’s also the leading cause of hospitalization among children. According to a study at BMC Public Health, the prevalence of asthma in Lhasa, Tibet is 1 percent, while in Hong Kong (where smog levels are much lower than in Beijing), the prevalence is 11 percent.
Unfortunately, the getting away from the pollution is the most effective option, either through moving away from factories or, better yet, out of China completely. While doctors continue to recommend no outdoor activity, closed windows, and avoidance of anything that requires deep breaths, this can only get you so far:
"Most exposure to air pollution occurs indoors, and complete avoidance is challenging if not impossible. "The link between motor vehicle emissions and asthma is fairly strong", says Dr. Charles Weschler, Adjunct Professor at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute at Rutgers University and visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. "Most of the exposure to motor vehicle emissions actually occurs indoors, since this is where Chinese urban residents spend most of their time (and outdoor-to-indoor transport of motor vehicle emissions is significant). Other indoor pollutants, of both outdoor and indoor origin, are anticipated to contribute to asthma attacks."
Dr. Richard Saint Cyr wrote an article for the June issue of beijingkids about pollution masks for kids, which can help when the AQI is high. For more information about asthma, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site.
Photo by Ellis Friedman