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Face Masks Provide Chinese With False Hope Against Pollution

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the breathable-air-is-a-crutch dept.

China 156

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Emily Sohn reports at Discovery Magazine that high levels of air pollution in Beijing, where levels of pollution have spiked above 750 micrograms per cubic meter, have caused a run on face masks as people look for ways to protect themselves from the smog. The capital is on its sixth day of an 'orange' smog alert — the second-highest on the scale — with the air tasting gritty and visibility down to a few hundred meters. But experts say that under the hazards they're facing, the masks are unlikely to help much. In fact, images of masked citizens navigating the streets of Beijing highlight the false confidence that people put in face masks in all sorts of situations, including flu outbreaks and operating rooms. For a step up in protection, consumers can buy a category of mask known technically as N95 respirators, which are generally available at hardware stores. N95 facemasks are often used in industrial workplace situations to protect against things like lead dust and welding fumes, and they are certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to trap 95 percent of particles sent through them in testing situations. But in order to work N95 respirators need to be professionally fitted to each person's individual face (PDF) to make sure there is a tight seal with no leaks. If they truly fit right, they are uncomfortable to wear."

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Same shit everywhere (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378317)

Start the nuclear war and kill everyone now.

... except the cockroaches, of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46380163)

Start the nuclear war and kill everyone now.

Bow to our new global overlords ... the cockroaches !!

Cab driver in Shanghai (5, Funny)

eric31415927 (861917) | about 7 months ago | (#46378323)

Masks are magically thought to prevent everything.
A friend of mine caught a cab in Shanghai during one of its more scary bird flu outbreaks.
The cab driver wore a mask with a hole cut out of it for his cigarette.

Re:Cab driver in Shanghai (0)

msauve (701917) | about 7 months ago | (#46378491)

That's not much different than the summary's author, who seems to think that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health sets standards in China.

Re:Cab driver in Shanghai (2)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46378557)

Because naturally, it's impossible for a mask in one country to qualify for any sort of certification in another. Little known fact, The IETF had to re-do all of the RFCs for each individual country.

Re:Cab driver in Shanghai (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378647)

The laws of physics change when you enter China, rendering all the testing that NIOSH did to establish which masks were safe under which conditions completely irrelevant to the problem.

In Communist China, Physics laws you. (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#46379123)

Take heart Chinese mask-wearers,

prior to the Snowden revelations,

it wasn't always cool to be a tin-hatter.

Re:Cab driver in Shanghai (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 7 months ago | (#46378675)

"That's not much different than the summary's author, who seems to think that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health sets standards in China."

... or that N95 masks are to be found in neighborhood hardware stores in China.

Re:Cab driver in Shanghai (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379241)

Well it depends on the hardware store, but it doesn't matter since everyone buys everything from taobao or yihaodian anyway. Taobao sells all sorts of respirator masks:

http://detail.tmall.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.11.l8ErDA&id=26615012067

Re:Cab driver in Shanghai (3, Funny)

Mashiki (184564) | about 7 months ago | (#46379017)

There's an occupational heath and safety standard in China? I thought it was "if you survive a day on the job, you'll go far in this world."

Re:Cab driver in Shanghai (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 7 months ago | (#46379953)

If I remember right, they do, and it's probably like their pollution standards - on the book as the best in the world, but having so little bite that you have to create a national/global scandal in order to actually have them enforced against you.

Such as putting melamine in milk. A couple people were executed for that one.

Re:Cab driver in Shanghai (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379367)

Oh laugh, I've seen worse. I used to go to a restaurant (closed a few years ago). I would watch a senior who was on oxygen remove the mask, take a bite, chew, replace the mask, repeat. Then, when he was finished (there is no smoking in the restaurant), drag the oxygen bottle out to his car, hoist the bottle onto the hood, with the engine running and the hose to the mask through the mostly rolled up window (in winter), and alternate between puffs on the cigarette, and puffs on the mask. Die hard nik fit, with emphasis on either die, or emphysema.

Not possible (0, Troll)

Iniamyen (2440798) | about 7 months ago | (#46378325)

No way in hell I'm gonna give up my cheap shit, just so some millions of people can breathe fresh air.

Re:Not possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378357)

The plantation owners said the same thing about slaves in the 1800's.

And, I do have a full gas mask that I would wear if I were to go over there.

Re:Not possible (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378487)

That's essentially why we have such a crap economy. If the US would stop importing stuff that was produced using methods that are illegal domestically, local production would be a lot more competitive.

Re:Not possible (1)

Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) | about 7 months ago | (#46379125)

Sadly they're supposedly not saving much money doing this either.

Re:Not possible (5, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 months ago | (#46379839)

The smog in Bejing is mostly due to coal fires for heating and automobile traffic, not factories.

Popular misconception re: face masks in influenza (5, Informative)

Rob Simpson (533360) | about 7 months ago | (#46378351)

The use of face masks in flu outbreaks is to prevent the spread of droplets from the person with the flu. (Note that it's possible to shed and spread influenza before you realize that you're infected.) But a face mask is worthless at protected you from getting the flu if you touch near your eyes after touching an infected surface. Hand washing and being conscious about touching your face is more important.

Re:Popular misconception re: face masks in influen (4, Insightful)

Cordus Mortain (3004429) | about 7 months ago | (#46379069)

Yeah, try telling stupid people that. It's much easier to tell people to wear masks to protect themselves than to protect other people. People are such selfish f***s.

China not part of the US (1)

khallow (566160) | about 7 months ago | (#46378363)

But in order to work N95 respirators need to be professionally fitted to each person's individual face to make sure there is a tight seal with no leaks.

Only if you are trying to comply with US regulations, say because you work at Stanford University (the source of the linked document). Since any hypothetical "professional" fitters in China would not be complying with US regulation, there's no guarantee that they would fit properly. It would have been better to link to generic fitting instructions for the masks in question as that would actually be useful.

Re:China not part of the US (2)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 months ago | (#46378721)

I could be wrong I think the 'need to' was implied as the act needed for it to work, not from the 'legal' angle.

Aside from that, i would think even an ill fitting respirator would be better than nothing.

Re:China not part of the US (1)

Silvanis (152728) | about 7 months ago | (#46379711)

Probably not. Considering you have to pull the air through the filters, then any gap between the mask and you becomes the path of least resistance.

Re:China not part of the US (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 7 months ago | (#46379963)

It would have been better to link to generic fitting instructions for the masks in question as that would actually be useful.

I think they're also overstating the difficulty. At least for my mask(which is rated tougher than 95% of particles) there's 3 basic mask sizes. If you're extremely tiny you might need a different type.

Expedient fitting - put a sample of each of the 3 masks on, picking the one that's 'tight, but not too tight'. Strap it down, then block the filters. Can't breath with your hands over the filter openings? You have a good seal.

pollution (4, Informative)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 7 months ago | (#46378371)

Latest data from the Commons Environment Audit Committee warns that up to 50,000 people each year are meeting a premature death in the UK thanks to air pollution, with an annual health care bill of up to £20.2 billion. The biggest culprit? Transport, responsible for 70 percent of pollution in towns and cities.

That's the UK, the pollution in China is worse by orders of magnitude, literally millions of people a year will be dying there from lung diseases.

People don't take traffic pollution seriously because they can't see it, even though the number of deaths caused dwarfs vehicle accident deaths.

When I was working near asbestos (4, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46378395)

When I was working near asbestos nobody told me that the masks had to be "professionally fitted" so I doubt the journalist knows more than they googled about the topic.
However they certainly are uncomfortable especially with safety goggles pushing them down on your nose.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 7 months ago | (#46378419)

When I was working near asbestos nobody told me that the masks had to be "professionally fitted" so I doubt the journalist knows more than they googled about the topic. However they certainly are uncomfortable especially with safety goggles pushing them down on your nose.

While I am not sure what was meant by "professionally fitted," there is a right and wrong way to wear a mask. They are uncomfortable when fitted for a proper tight seal, and I would not be surprised if many people who have never been shown the proper way to put one on and fit it aid up with them too loose to be of any use because it is more comfortable that way. If you didn't have mask face after taking one off it was too loose.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (2)

Piata (927858) | about 7 months ago | (#46378485)

This seems like common sense though. I've worn one of these masks and it's pretty easy to tell if you have a proper seal. Of course I couldn't imagine having to wear one all day without breaks. My face gets sore and my mouth gets dry after wearing one for just a few hours.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (3, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#46378643)

No, it's not rocket science, but many people can't figure out how to size the mask by themselves. The typical error is to get one that is too large. You also can't use them if you have a beard so you have to use another type of mask (in the US where we have OSHA running around). At my hospital, we have one nurse who is the mask fitter. She went to some classes and has to do an occasional webinar but it's not like she has a degree in 'maskology'.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 7 months ago | (#46379329)

Where I work I know they check the plant floor guys and they get sent home if they have not shaved thoroughly because it could cause mask fit/seal issues.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379395)

What about the plant floor girls? Slashdot always loves a story about how there aren't enough female programmers, do you think they'd be interested in the sex disparity amongst those who work dangerous jobs that require masks?

Re:When I was working near asbestos (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 7 months ago | (#46379503)

One would assume that many women won't have enough facial hair to require shaving to meet the requirements.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379591)

One would assume that many women won't have enough facial hair to require shaving to meet the requirements.

Until they met your mom. BOOM!

Re:When I was working near asbestos (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46379759)

do you think they'd be interested in the sex disparity amongst those who work dangerous jobs that require masks?

Only if you are talking about Catwoman.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (4, Informative)

jafac (1449) | about 7 months ago | (#46379707)

yeah - if it takes effort to draw-in breath, then you have a proper seal. (used to wear one spray painting).

Re:When I was working near asbestos (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 months ago | (#46379921)

Yep, I found putting one on was pretty much the same as getting a skin diving mask to seal properly. I don't think Joe public actually believes cheap paper mask are as good as an industrial respirator, it's obvious they leak when you wear one, but they're better than nothing and cost next to nothing.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378495)

Yes, but this isn't the stone age. I find it highly dubious that a comfortable mask can't be made.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 7 months ago | (#46379019)

The problem is that to be effective a mask has to seal to the face so that the air is forced through the mask rather than bypassing it round the sides but the face has an awkward shape and tends to move.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (1)

anubi (640541) | about 7 months ago | (#46379077)

Somehow I keep thinking of a pneumatic silicone rubber seal, kinda like a molded innertube fitted to a typical face contour.

Variances in the surface would deform and displace its fill fluid, whose internal pressure would maintain the seal as the face contours change.

I have a sound-cancellation headset with some technology like this on the earpieces. They seal pretty well, yet are so comfortable I wear the headset on cold days to keep my ears warm.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379741)

Or just use rubber coated memory foam.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 7 months ago | (#46379645)

So just keep making the mask cover a larger and larger area until you find part of the head that works better to seal against. Maybe it'll end up looking like one of those masks from Avatar (or maybe even a spacesuit helmet), but sooner or later you'll find a design that's comfortable.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379821)

Well, really they only have to make something that covers the nose. Maybe even nose plugs with tubes that connect to a filter pack worn elsewhere.

Re:When I was working near asbestos (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 7 months ago | (#46379061)

While I am not sure what was meant by "professionally fitted,"

I was wondering the same thing. N95 are one time use disposable masks. Do you need to get them professionally fitted every time you put one on? I'm guessing it's more likely you are supposed to get someone to tell you what size is best suited for you. In the case you can't figure it out yourself.

For full protection.. (3, Interesting)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 7 months ago | (#46379603)

For full protection you most definitely need to get the face mask professionally fitted. What this means is that you're shaven clean and strapped to a machine which measured the airpressure inside and outside the mask to establish if any flow is bypassing the filtering elements.

In my case that involved wearing it breathing normally, breathing heavily, nodding, shaking my head, pulling a face, hunched over looking down, while reading a pre-defined sentence, and then breathing normally again. The machines then give you a pass or fail. My work stocks 2 different dust masks and 3 different half face respirators for this very reason and a mark goes on our security card to determine which models we're allowed to wear.

Now all that being said none of this at all means that a mask / respirator which hasn't been fit tested is useless, ultimately it just means that it won't afford you the maximum protection (i.e. 90% of particles filtered rather than 95%). Mind you fit testing is a relatively recent idea. Australian OHS regulations have only included the requirement for fit testing for a few years now. Certainly I doubt anyone would have been tested more than about 5-10 years ago.

I encourage you to do it though. Nothing says waste of time more than putting on a respirator with a P3 filter only to find you can't get more than a P1 rating because it doesn't suit your face. (That P stuff is Australian, I don't know the American ratings)

Professional Fitted my arse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379967)

Here's what the FDA has to say:

"To work as expected, an N95 respirator requires a proper fit to your face. Generally, to check for proper fit, you should put on your respirator and adjust the straps so that the respirator fits tight but comfortably to your face. For information on proper fit, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions."

http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/GeneralHospitalDevicesandSupplies/PersonalProtectiveEquipment/ucm055977.htm

Orange alert?! (1)

Dachannien (617929) | about 7 months ago | (#46378411)

The capital is on its sixth day of an 'orange' smog alert â" the second-highest on the scale â" with the air tasting gritty and visibility down to a few hundred meters.

You mean it can get worse?!

Re:Orange alert?! (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#46378547)

'Red' smog alert is expressed by drawing the chinese pictogram for 'sandpaper' inside the pictogram for 'lungs'.

(yes, I know that that's absolutely bullshit; but I've had enough of that 'Since I've been strongarmed into giving a commencement address to H.S. 341232's singularly uninteresting class, did you know that the Chinese word for 'crisis' is the combination of their word for 'danger' with their word for 'opportunity'? Really makes you think, doesn't it? Now, don't get too shiftfaced in college, what you learn there costs you more per hour than you are ever likely to make, so keep that in mind. And, um, Go class of 2000-and-something!'

Re:Orange alert?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378635)

'Red' smog alert is expressed by drawing the chinese pictogram for 'sandpaper' inside the pictogram for 'lungs'.

and at "red" smog alert, you can cave it into the air

Re:Orange alert?! (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | about 7 months ago | (#46378781)

> you can cave it into the air
Stalagmites are optional

Re:Orange alert?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379195)

It sounds like you've already realized that the old crisis = danger + opportunity saw is also absolute bullshit.

In the word crisis () the second character is . Like many Chinese characters, can have different meanings when used in different words. One meaning really is "opportunity", like in , but it also can mean "machine" as in (airplane = "flying machine") . In the case of crisis, probably is one of the other meanings: "critical point". "danger critical point" makes a bit more sense than "danger opportunity".

Re:Orange alert?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379213)

Sadly all of the Chinese characters got scrubbed out. I guess unicode is still too high-tech for Slashdot. Re-posting with phonetic spelling...

It sounds like you've already realized that the old crisis = danger + opportunity saw is also absolute bullshit.

In the word crisis (wei ji) the second character is "ji". Like many Chinese characters, ji can have different meanings when used in different words. One meaning really is "opportunity", like in "ji hui", but it also can mean "machine" as in "fei ji" (airplane = "flying machine") . In the case of crisis, it probably is one of the other meanings: "critical point". "danger critical point" makes a bit more sense than "danger opportunity".

It'll be fine (2)

goldcd (587052) | about 7 months ago | (#46378423)

What Shanghai is going through is that London (and pretty much every participant in the industrial revolution went through) - just this is a bit later.
China will put in place (and actually enforce) environmental controls, and it'll all be fine.

Re:It'll be fine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378525)

What Shanghai is going through is that London (and pretty much every participant in the industrial revolution went through) - just this is a bit later.

China will put in place (and actually enforce) environmental controls, and it'll all be fine.

That must be why they are building coal fired power plants like there is no tomorrow.

Re:It'll be fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378677)

It took the UK about 150 years from the start of the industrial revolution to introduce clean air regulations. China still has a way to go.

Re:It'll be fine (1)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46378589)

The participants in the 1st industrial revolution had an excuse. China knows very well what the consequences are (through the benefit of 20/20 hindsight) but shows no sign of giving a damn.

Re:It'll be fine (3, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 7 months ago | (#46378733)

It's more complicated than that. China has hundreds of millions of people all desperately struggling to pull themselves up into the middle class. They know how Americans, Europeans and their successful Chinese peers live because it's in their faces every day through ubiquitous advertising and ostentatious public displays of wealth. They want the trappings of that consumer lifestyle so badly that they don't care what they have to do to get them. Who wants to be the one to tell them, "no you can't have that because it will ruin the environment"? Against these base desires of human nature, no amount of logic or reasoning about consequences can prevail.

Re:It'll be fine (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46378919)

Except that their choice is not poison everyone until they drop like flies or remain a poor agrarian society. They have the benefit of a century of research into how to industrialize without poisoning people. They have the option to find a happy medium.

Re:It'll be fine (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 7 months ago | (#46378945)

Building factories (and especially power plants) that don't pollute costs considerably more, and takes longer. If the Chinese want to industrialize as fast as possible, they may not be willing to accept the extra costs, both in time and money, that it would take to do it the clean way. Think of it as a form of instant gratification.

Re:It'll be fine (1)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46379227)

And therein lies the foolishness or evil. I say evil because the odds are the people profiting most from those factories live well away from the choking air and deadly water they create.

Re:It'll be fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379451)

There are a ton of simple, cost effectives measures that could be put in place to dramatically cut down on pollution. I mean, one of the biggest contributors to particulate pollution are the thousands upon thousands of smelters, big and small, who operate largely unregulated and without even the most primitive of anti-pollution measures. Smoke stack particulate scrubbers aren't that big of deal.

The problem isn't monetary cost or industrial efficiency. It's the political cost. China is not only going through an industrial revolution, but also a technocratic and political revolution. Their regulatory competency has been outpaced by industry.

Re:It'll be fine (1)

jafac (1449) | about 7 months ago | (#46379709)

having a sick and dying workforce is not a way to grow an economy.

Re:It'll be fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379135)

Cry me a river. If they gave a damn about getting into the middle class, they shouldn't have killed off all their educated and had a revolution which required everyone to become an agrarian farmer. Now they have businesses ran by the criminal class, because only criminals dared to run businesses in China (until recently). The middle class doesn't have a chance, as the formerly criminal class won't let them get that far.

Call me a conspirationist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378439)

But this seem to be 'as designed'. China also has one of the highest percentage of smoking population on Earth, and the government doen't seem to be doing nothing to curb this. Add to this the fact that chinese workers don't have any official retirement plans, and that now the 'one-child' policy generation is starting to work (meaning, less new people to support old people), and it seems that it's simply not desirable for the governement that the chinese people leave much longer after their working time, as the society is simply not ready to carry the burden. If not, they could invest much more in figthing smoking and pollution.

I hope somebody proves I'm wrong, of course, but the signs seems pretty clear.

Re:Call me a conspirationist (1)

lavorgeous (191087) | about 7 months ago | (#46379259)

Smoking in China seems to be following the same generational shifts that it did in the US. Far fewer 30-somethings smoke than 50-somethings, and 20-somethings that smoke are fewer still.

Effective particle masks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378445)

In order to safely wear a good particle mask one needs frequent medical checkups as many hearts can not bear up under the stress of breathing through such masks.
          Like other societies China is being murdered by growth of population and growth of business. Growth is the great killer yet politicians rant about wanting growth. And much like the US if China had strict enough birth control to go back to a sane level of population they would suffer economic collapse.

The work / factories will just move to the next pl (3, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 7 months ago | (#46378449)

The work / factories will just move to the next place that take the jobs at any cost.

And why don't they work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378465)

FTFA:

In Beijing, where levels of pollution have spiked above 750 micrograms per cubic meter this week, wearing a mask that actually reduced the concentration of inhaled particles by half would still expose people to 10 times more than exposure levels deemed safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Still not a good article. If it's about air pollution (as the title indicates) then why the diversion about flu and no discussion about smog particulate sizes vs. mask design?

Re:And why don't they work? (1)

thoughtsatthemoment (1687848) | about 7 months ago | (#46379103)

Because this is just another "put-down" type of article. If people don't wear masks, the an article would say wearing it is better than doing nothing. The purpose is for social influence on its targeted audience. It is not necessarily concerned with really solving the problem. If you go to Chinese sites, there are a lot of articles discussing this issue in a much more constructive manner.

What does the author know about N95 masks? (5, Informative)

NimbleSquirrel (587564) | about 7 months ago | (#46378469)

As someone who has worked in an industrial environment, and who has had to wear respirators and other PPE, I can say that N95 respirators do not need to be 'professionally fitted'. They do need to fit just right, but the users themselves can do that. Yes, they can be uncomfortable if you've never worn a mask before, but once you are used to them you can wear them all day (as many many workers do everyday).

While the author focusses on fitting, he completely ignores the other issue with N95 masks: there are many different types that are designed to filter different things. There are different masks for dusts and particles, nuisance odours, welding fumes, acid gasses, organic vapors and biologicals. The author ignores that people will need to know what type of respirator they need as buying the wrong type will make it far less effective. Not all N95 respirators are the same. For a sutiation like this, a dust and particle filter with nuisance level acid gas (NOx, SO2, etc) would be better, but unlikely to be found at many hardware stores.

What people don't seem to realise is that the gasses that make up smog (CO, NOx, SO2, ozone, organic compounds) can be just as damaging, if not more, than the dust and particulates. Even N95 masks only filter out nuisance levels of these.

if the fit's not perfect.. N85 is better than N0 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378623)

Heck, cutting out 50% of the particulates would probably help.

Pollution from Cars? (0)

Twinbee (767046) | about 7 months ago | (#46378477)

Is most of the smog coming from vehicle exhaust?

If so, I hear a company called Tesla has a car or two they may be interested in.

Re:Pollution from Cars? (0)

cyberjock1980 (1131059) | about 7 months ago | (#46378537)

Except there's not enough known, proven lithium reserves on the planet to make enough cars to help with the air pollution there. That is, assuming that the pollution is mostly from cars.

The fact that so little lithium is available on the planet is one of the reasons why vehicles produced at very large scales will never be electric vehicles or hybrids. I remember reading somewhere that if you had every ounce of lithium on the planet right now that is reasonably expected to exist(regardless of the cost) available you couldn't make enough batteries for 1/5 of the vehicles in the USA that are currently on the road. Nevermind the rest of the world.

Re:Pollution from Cars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378801)

That's factually incorrect (all of it). I wondered about that myself, then looked it up. There is enough lithium and it's accessible.

Re:Pollution from Cars? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378875)

There are just over a billion cars on the planet. The USGS puts known lithium reserves at 13 million tonnes. That equates to 13 kg for every car on the planet. There's about 8-9 kg of lithium in the largest battery pack (85 kWh) for the Model S.

As with any other resource, if we managed to use up 70% of the known reserves, we'd start looking for more.

And a significant proportion of the world's lithium supply doesn't even come from those reserves, but from seawater (evaporated in salt lakes). The world's oceans contain ~230 billion tonnes of lithium, which is roughly 18000 times the "known reserves" figure.

Re:Pollution from Cars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378553)

If you read the article, you'd see the majority of it is from coal fired power plants.

Go Full Heisenberg (4, Funny)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 7 months ago | (#46378523)

Whenever I'm in Beijing, I like to rock my IIT 91440 Twin-Cartridge Respirator with Goggles [amazon.com] , ideally with my Day-Glo Yellow Tychem Qc Chemical Protection Coveralls. Authorities don't give me a problem, they just assume I'm from North Korea.

Don't joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378661)

The best stuff is the 3M half masks. You need the double respirator to lower the resistance to breathing through such small filters. I think most of Asia should be equipped with these.

Re:Go Full Heisenberg (3, Informative)

snookiex (1814614) | about 7 months ago | (#46378663)

In your next joke, please consider using better quality products [amazon.com] . ;)

How does it seal against the neckbeard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379173)

'nuf said

Flow modelling? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#46378531)

If I were wearing a respirator for something Seriously Important(pathogens, war gasses, beryllium dust, etc.) it would be very important to me that absolutely everything is as it ought to be (and I'd probably be fucked, because good luck getting a nice seal if you get caught with a faceful of stubble, and sucks to be the beard guy, though that isn't a concern of mine personally).

However, if I were just trying to help my odds against something in the 'definitely unpleasant, very probably not good, especially at a population level' category, I'd see a role for something that provides 100% only in the hands of an expert; but 50-90 in the hands of n00bs.

That said, though, most filters impede air passing through them to some degree, so inhalations would likely favor any unfiltered imperfections in fit over a trip through the filters, making even dimensionally modest gaps much more serious in practice.

Does anybody know how badly that effect bites you? Obviously, for viruses or something where literally tens of them, if you aren't lucky, can be enough, it basically doesn't matter; but what's the efficiency drop-off for generic bulk particulate masks as user competence declines? Is it, because of airflow taking the low resistance path, basically all or nothing, or is it a fairly smooth decline in effectiveness, with progressively less competent users getting less protection; but no ugly cliff somewhere in the effectiveness value?

Re:Flow modelling? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#46378695)

As nimblesquirrel has pointed out above, it's not all that hard to fit N95 type masks. It is hard to keep them at high efficiency, especially for particulates. A five o'clock shadow won't kill it, but stubble will.

N95 masks are not designed for critical exposures - they are a big compromise between fit, effectiveness and cost. You're supposed to toss them every shift, sooner for heavy dust / particular environments. Again, as nimblesquirrel states, there are different N95 masks and there are certainly different manufacturing quality levels.

Who knows where the average Chinese citizen is sourcing their masks. Probably from Golden Lucky Industries who gets the filter material from recycled fish head sludge.

Re:Flow modelling? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#46378803)

nhalations would likely favor any unfiltered imperfections in fit over a trip through the filters

Good point.

N95 (1)

Tippler (3027557) | about 7 months ago | (#46378605)

We have to wear N95s in the medical profession if we are interacting with a patient with suspected or confirmed active tuberculosis. They are, indeed, miserable to wear. Try performing a complicated procedure that is hard enough normally with a mask crushing your face and the constant feeling of suffocation.

Re:N95 (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#46378715)

Grow a beard and use the hoods. They're much more comfortable (and more expensive). If you are of the female persuasion either start injecting testosterone or tell the Mask Person that you're claustrophobic.

Re:N95 (1)

germansausage (682057) | about 7 months ago | (#46379413)

Get a good mask. I use something like this https://www.acklandsgrainger.c... [acklandsgrainger.com] . It has big cartridges, silicone rubber face mask and a decent exhaust port. The right cartridges will protect you from just about anything and you can wear it all day.

On the other hand, it's probably not "Medically approved".

Mama always said (4, Funny)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46378629)

Be sure to chew your air for at least 30 seconds before inhaling.

a worldwide problem (1)

pbjones (315127) | about 7 months ago | (#46378847)

from vision and personal experience, most people wearing masks don't wear them correctly. This includes nurses, builders and people trying to get protection from the rest of us. It's not not just Chinese, it's everywhere. Also, most masks just keep out dust, not fumes or virus, the good ones are more expensive.

Professionally fitted??WTF (2)

germansausage (682057) | about 7 months ago | (#46378871)

The author has never worn a mask or they wouldn't be spouting such nonsense. Professionally fitted? They usually come in small, medium and large. Pick the right one. They need to make a good seal on your face, so lose the beard if you really need a good seal.Other than that, keep them snug enough so that when you inhale, the air enters through the filter cartridges and not through leaks around the mask. Because the filters slightly restrict airflow the mask tends to pull in tighter as you inhale. Uncomfortable? I guess comfort is a personal thing, but I've worn a half mask with N95 cartridges all damn day without too much discomfort. It sure beats hacking up drywall dust for the next 3 days.

Re:Professionally fitted??WTF (1)

Cordus Mortain (3004429) | about 7 months ago | (#46379139)

It's really easy to tell if it's a good seal. Put the mask on, and put your hands over the inlets for the cartridges. If you can breath in, it's not a good fit. Pretty simple. No "professional" required.

Re:Professionally fitted??WTF (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 7 months ago | (#46380017)

The author has never worn a mask or they wouldn't be spouting such nonsense. Professionally fitted? They usually come in small, medium and large.

And there you have it. A mask is rated to filter out a certain amount of particulates. So do I go the small, medium, or the large? How do I know? I have a chiselled chin so will the round mask from brand a be okay or do I need to go for brand B? There's no doubt a mask will do some filtering, but if you actually need to rely on the filtration level then you most definitely should have a fit test done.

It takes about 20min to do if you get the correct mask first go and they put on you a test mask with a few tubes that measure things like air pressure, O2 level etc, and then ask you to go through a series of tests such as breath normally, breath heavily, talk, nod, shake your heard, face down etc. If I were working with something that is actually dangerous then I would want to know that my mask actually fits.

Surgical masks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46378951)

The function of the surgical mask is primarily to prevent contamination of the surgical field. Not to protect the surgeon!!

fJago8z (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379119)

in time. For aal but with Netcraft fucking numbers,

Re:fJago8z (1)

12WTF$ (979066) | about 7 months ago | (#46379501)

Remember to take the mask out of the plastic bag before fitting.
The resulting lack of oxygen can cause disorientation as suggested by the above comment.

Using is worse than not using (2)

RubberDogBone (851604) | about 7 months ago | (#46379219)

As the FA points out, you need a GOOD fit for a mask worth anything to actually work. The real danger for a mask like this is that correctly fitted or not, once you start using it, you tend to have to mouth-breath to overcome the drag from the filter material. This means whatever you are breathing in bypasses the filtering your nose provides and instead goes deep into your lungs.

This can be a very bad thing, especially if the mask doesn't fit well anyway.

There is also a possibility to hyperventilate by forcibly mouth-breathing for hours at a time. I've done this on work projects where I had to wear a mask the entire time. It's also tiring due to the extra effort just to breathe.

There is a very similar problem with sunglasses. Put on dark glasses and your eyes tend to widen and open. If light is leaking in around the lenses, then just like your lungs and a mask, your eyes will receive more unfiltered light than if you had no glasses on. And worse if the glasses are scratched or damaged, the sunlight can get in that much easier.

The commonality between masks and sunglasses is simply that any system that is expected to protect you has to be used correctly and the human response to it also needs to be understood by the user. You need to know that a mask will make you want to breath deeply AND if you do that with a shitty mask or one that is badly fitted, you will get sicker and/or injured.

Most people think safety warnings are for "the other guy" so they don't care anyway. People think they are invincible. Oddly, not one of them has ever been right.

They have it good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379323)

Try working in a fucking coal mine hundreds of feet underground for 20 years with the shittiest filtration system on earth then tell me how you feel about it. At best I could have only hoped for conditions that good compared to the shit I was stuck in.

capital (1)

Msdose (867833) | about 7 months ago | (#46379343)

The west got its present supply of capital from the reinvested surplus profits of child labor, slave labor, unsafe labor etc. The Chinese are building up their supply of capital through the exploitation of their people, so when their exploitable resources are used up, they will have the capital to invest in the next level of technology, education etc. just like us. The communists of the west, unions, etc. want the chinese to pay for expensive union labor and safety regimes so they will not have capital enough when their resources run out, and will have to borrow the capital from western union banks, at 14% interest.

Secondhand smoke? (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 7 months ago | (#46379383)

I was actually wondering earlier, if suddenly anarchy reigned supreme and smoking in bars was no longer illegal, what's the most minimally intrusive headgear bar staff could use to protect themselves against secondhand smoke? (Not just assuming the bar would have air purification systems installed out the ying-yang anyway.)

.

Re:Secondhand smoke? (1)

aXis100 (690904) | about 7 months ago | (#46379479)

Half-face respirators. You know, the rubberised mask with the strap that goes over your head, with some canisters mounted either side. Eg like this: http://www.moldex.com/au/respi... [moldex.com]

Anything less is just rubbish,, especially the disposable ones. They are too flimsy to hold a good seal in most situations and they only last an hour or so.

What's Old is New Again (2)

mendax (114116) | about 7 months ago | (#46379459)

Being a person who was born and raised on the Los Angeles ares, I came to know the awful [tumblr.com] smog [nrdc.org] that once existed there. People sometimes would wear gas masks when the sky was very black. It's interesting how the Chinese have failed to learn from history. The air in Los Angeles is wonderful these day. It's still polluted, of course, to a certain extent but nothing like like it was in the 1950-1980 period and nothing like what you see in China now.

Invention solves mask and facial hair problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379539)

Novel solution solves the problem of complete seal of mask to face especially if user has facial hair.
Think of a scuba mouth piece, a scuba nose clamp and the filtration canisters behind the neck.
The air seal is the user's mouth around the scuba mouth piece.
Google: Gills Breather

National institute? (1)

Boawk (525582) | about 7 months ago | (#46379625)

[N95 facemasks] are certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Whose national institute? Ah, I see [cdc.gov] . I wonder what China's equivalent institute certifies, or if they even have an equivalent institute.

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