“We should not fear smog. It’s preventable and curable” reads a large red banner hung across the doors of Chengdu No. 7 People’s Hospital in Sichuan province, where a smog clinic was recently opened for patients suffering various ‘smog-related symptoms’.
Over 100 patients with sore throats, coughs, asthma and even heart disease “triggered or worsened by smog” have been sent directly to the clinic since it was established earlier this month, according to SCMP.
Experts are saying, however, that the specialized clinic is most likely a gimmick used to direct hospital traffic, and that most people admitting themselves for smog-lung are probably just experiencing common symptoms related to winter weather.
“You can’t really say a symptom such as a cough or sore throat is caused by PM2.5. Chances are the cold weather is the real cause,” Pan Xiaochuan, a professor at Peking University’s School of Public Health was quoted as saying.
The rising middle class in China has become increasingly fed up with air pollution that has accompanied the country’s spectacular economic growth. The term PM2.5, which refers to tiny particles in the air that can penetrate deep into the lungs, has become a common part of the vocabulary.
Between the clinics, the surgical masks deemed ineffective in blocking PM2.5 particles, and schools teaching their students that they can fight off smog with martial arts, it’s looking like many people will go to all sorts of useless lengths just to avoid the haze.
So far, Chengdu’s No. 7 is the only known hospital to offer the specialized clinic. “There might be more hospitals following suit, because I think it’s a way to increase hospitals’ revenues,” Pan said.
Regardless, researchers are currently concocting grand plans to reduce the crippling smog levels and air pollution across the country, most recently by pumping liquid nitrogen into the atmosphere to disperse the particles.