Monday, January 14, 2013

Pollution is gross

I knew before moving to China that the air pollution here would be gross, but this past weekend it was off the charts. Literally.  Philip and I left the house Saturday evening to go to a dinner party, and I tried hard to imagine the spooky white smog was closer to Sherlock Holmes' London than post-apocalyptic third world mega city.

As we were preparing for our move, I tried to wrap my head around what it would mean to live in a city where the pollution would require us on some days not to leave the house.  Back home, I was worried about parabens in my moisturizer and what chemicals they use in my dry cleaning.  Here, toxic levels of micro-chemicals--and possibly lead--are all but guaranteed to be in the air we breathe here daily.

Indoor time!
And its obviously not my but my kids' lungs I feel guilty about.  I've tried asking other parents here how they feel about raising their families in Beijing, and I've found it's kind of like asking a smoker how he feels about his lungs: most respond, eyes down, kind of sheepishly that the evidence is inconclusive, and anecdotally at least, once they leave China, the coughs go away, all those little lung cells regenerate, and everyone seems fine.

This past weekend we dealt with it mainly by staying indoors (with Julian and Vera's little faces basically pressed up against our air filters.)  We are lucky to have a pool in our building and some nice restaurants just downstairs, so there wasn't a need to go very far.  But it's something I know I'll continue to angst over as long as we live here.

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