Part of the joy of living in Shanghai is mocking Beijingers and their dust storms, but events from last week might mean that we have to hold our tongue in the future. Around April 2-3, Shanghai got a huge dust storm—and how bad was it? The API index, which measures the density of particulate matter in the air, goes from 0 to 500, with 300-500 being level V or heavy pollution. Shanghai’s average value is in the 200’s, but on the day of the dust storm, we hit 500.
This broke the previous record of API 434 set on April 8, 2002. Why did this happen? The dust storms start out in the northwest, but whether or not they hit Shanghai depends on the strength of the storms plus air currents—if we’re lucky, the trajectory of the storms goes by us.
Environmental degradation inevitably becomes a public health issue—the number of asthma patients in local hospitals has doubled in recent weeks, especially with middle-aged and older folks.
For those of you who, like Shanghaiist, are well-acquainted with that lovely feeling of light asphyxiation called the asthma attack, you probably know that the local pharmacies all carry Ventolin for 30-40 RMB. Stock up, because there’s just no way to get away from bad air—take a look at what the China Daily has to say:
According to a recent report by the Shanghai Indoor Environment Purifier Association (SIEPA), about 95 percent of the city’s office buildings do not regularly clean their central air conditioning systems, and less than 5 percent of the 4,000 high-rise properties in Shanghai reported that they cleaned their ventilation systems on an annual basis.
Neglecting ventilation facilities results in serious indoor air pollution, and can cause considerable harm to a worker’s health.
That blows! It almost makes us not want to work in an office.