While we already knew that smog is poisoning our lungs the moment we walk outside; the World Health Organisation (WHO) has just reminded us that we’re also under attack when we take refuge inside, thanks to second-hand inhalation when in a room full of smokers.
In a disturbing info-graphic, the WHO calculated the various PM2.5 levels (the scale used to measure air pollution in China) of hazy smoke-filled rooms and contrasted it with photos of the Beijing skyline taken with the corresponding level of smog. The results are enough to make you cough up a lung.
The pictures (included below) read like an even more horrifying version of the 2013 photo-boards which captured the startling vicissitudes of Beijing’s pollution.
As it turns out, the quality of air we breathe in a room with merely three people smoking is actually more deadly than on a day where pollution is officially considered “hazardous”.
So, while we’ve been caught up checking the hourly smog updates to avoid the toxic “airpolcalypse” outside, we’ve probably already been exposed to a far more noxious environment simply by sitting inside restaurants, hotel rooms and taxis.
Last year, Beijing passed legislation to counter the indoor smoking epidemic, with the ban hoping to inject some fresh air into all indoor public places, work offices and public transport vehicles. The laws are due to come into effect in June, but there are already doubts as to their efficacy and indeed, who will enforce them.
In the meantime, it looks like those designer-brand anti-smog masks will soon need to come equipped with holes for chopsticks if smoky banquet-tables are on par with Beijing’s direly polluted air.
By Liam Bourke