Shanghaiist has just touched down in Beijing. And just as we were wondering if it was just us, or if the air in the Jing was really that much worse *cough*cough*, this is what we read:
- Birth defects in Chinese infants have soared nearly 40 percent since 2001
- There is one Chinese baby born with birth defects every 30 seconds
- In Beijing, the incidence of breast cancer has increased 23 percent in 10 years, with about 45 women out of every 100,000 diagnosed with the disease, says the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In Shanghai, the figures are even worse, at 55 out of 100,000, up 31 percent in the past decade.
Earlier this week, we received an email from reader Matt Dalton looking to put together a Mask Week in Beijing. And they’re looking for Shanghai organisers to do the same! Here’s what they envision:
Greetings From Beijing!
As I read in your latest environmental post, Shanghai is the world’s second most polluted city and we have the dubious honor of living in the most polluted city in China. Needless to say, pollution is an issue here in China but we can’t forget that it is also a global problem. Anyways, after going though a couple days with dangerously high pollution indexes, a few of us have come up with an idea to increase awareness of this serious health issue.
The idea is a week long event starting 11/17/2007 (Yao, Yao, Yao, Qi/ Want Want Want Air) to 11/24/2007 called Mask Week.
The idea is simple.
1. Buy a mask. (The best one possible to protect you from air pollutants) Still, simple cloth masks, although not very affective can still raise awareness. You can buy them cheaply in local pharmacies, supermarkets and so on.
2. From the time you wake up on the 17th to the time you go to bed on the 24th wear a mask whenever you go outside. Just live your daily life but when you step out the door, wear a mask. (Yes we realize that indoor air pollution is more dangerous because it is concentrated but this is aiming at outdoor air pollution.)
And that’s it.
But before we can carry this out, we need to spread the word as much as possible. The best way to do this is to tell to your friends, family, classmates, coworkers …anybody anywhere about Mask Week. The last thing this should be is some kind of “laowai only” event. We want people from all walks of life to join.
Anything you can do to help is a step in the right direction. For example you are good at photoshopping, you can create fliers that catch people’s eye to hand out or post in places like bar streets, universities and so on. Go online to your favorite forums and blogs and copy this message or create your own. Just remember, this is NOT a protest. This isn’t about being angry at whoever or whatever you feel is causing air pollution. It is about showing people that you care for your and their health and that air pollution is a serious problem.
If you decide to participate, please take some time and educate yourself about air pollution. Who knows? Maybe with a little more awareness we will all be able to breathe a little easier!
Shanghaiists interested in helping Matt with the Shanghai part of the event are welcome to contact him at mattman_30 AT hotmail DOT com.
Photo of museum exhibit of child with anencephaly from Taco Hose