5 Ways to Avoid Air Pollution in Beijing, China
A lot of people ask how to avoid the infamous air pollution in Beijing. It’s a good question and I used to live in Beijing for a long time so I have some insights. But essentially what you’re asking is ‘how to avoid air’ because there’s no way to separate the two on bads days! Anyway, here are 5 ways to avoid air pollution that you can try.
Get an air purifier in your house/office
Most of everyone’s day is spent indoors, yeah? This is the type of air quality you can control with man-made tools. There are cheap air purifiers that you can get from an international supermarket or electronics market (Carrefour?) that will make a BIG difference in your home. I’ve seen a lot of cool European firms making some really nice air purifiers as well. But yeah, get an air purifier and then most of your day will feel clean and crisp!
Limit your time outside
To be honest, this is probably the #1 strategy. Most people stay in their home, take the subway/car/train to work, and come home. They are not outside most of the day! On bad days — this is what most people will choose to do. Skip the outdoor run. Don’t go dancing in the square. And, in general, just try to be inside as much as possible. Combined with the air purifier, you’re already set up for a healthier Beijing life!
Get a mask
Wearing an air purifying mask is not uncommon or uncool in Beijing. I remember showing up there and being mortified that people had to wear them.. but the masks do work and it’s more casual the longer that you are there. If you go to something like a bike shop or exercise store they will have a fancy masks with reusable filters that you can use even to bike to work. Some masks even have cool designs to make you look like a Mortal Kombat character! If you just want the one-off solution, then know that every little convenience store will have small packs of the general surgical masks in Beijing.
One of the bigger problems is knowing when it’s bad pollution outside. Because of the varying degrees of particle size, you may not always know when it’s polluted out. Some of the smallest particulate matter, PM2.5, is not so visible to the human eye and can still cause a lot of damage. Always make sure to check an AQI reading for the day before going out. There are several apps and website to help you here — check the link in the title here for examples.
Get out of town
Much like Americans in the north spend the winter in Florida… so, too can you escape from the pollution. Beijing pollution is worst in the winter, plus it’s the coldest time of year as well. I know plenty of people who would work somewhere else or take off for several of the winter months creating their own global lifestyle. Consider do a separate gig down in the south of China (hell, go to an island!) and just avoid the problem altogether.