This installment of Breathless in Beijing features Dorothea Lu, head of booking & PR at Yugong Yishan Livehouse. She and husband, Zhiqiang Lu (the venue’s owner), take several precautions to deal with smog for their children son Yiming Lu (age 9) and daughter Yina Lu (4). Below, Dorothea offers advice about which purifier to buy on the cheap, how she keeps her kids entertained indoors on smoggy days, and – appropriately – the music guru suggests what song best soundtracks Beijing’s airpocalypse.
To improve the air quality at home we monitor our rooms with the Origins Laser Egg, and use Blueair and Yadu purifiers. We also have the Smart Air Original and Cannon DIY purifiers. I can really recommend the latter for if you are on a budget, and don’t mind its white noise.
Insufficient window sealing is a big issue for the majority of Beijing’s apartments both when it comes to indoor air quality and energy saving (imagine how much of the coal plant powered central heating goes straight out of the windows). When I turned off the air purifiers for a test it took only 5 minutes for our indoor air to turn just as bad as outside. We moved home soon and top on the list of things we are looking at are better windows.
Luckily our kids breathe fairly good air at school. My son’s school installed a filtration system with incoming air already purified, and my daughter’s kindergarten uses Blueair purifiers. I don’t have to keep them at home on bad air days, since they get better air at school than at home. But the school still closed for the Red Alert last year, following government guidelines to prevent further deterioration of air quality.
We try to remember to use our Vog masks when the AQI is above 150, and preferably stay at home when it’s above 250, although we still move around town to get to school or play dates and such. The best remedy against pollution is to invite the next door kids over for some fun playtime inside, the classic hide and seek game still being a favorite. My daughter has a habit of painting her nails on bad days, since she likes to dry them in front of the Blueair when it’s on full blast.
To describe the pollution to people back home I say: "Imagine a misty day, minus the romantic feeling, since it’s all toxic soup."
My current airpocalyptic soundtrack is the Grey Oceans album by CocoRosie. Once I’ve got enough of the melancholy, I listen to Sweet Sun by Milky Chance to pick me up again.
Photo: Courtesy of Dorothea Lu