The Locusts of Beijing

They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt. ~ Exodus 10:15

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Sadly, a purely blue sky is rare in Beijing. Most skies are tinted gray…

Most of us know the story of the locusts that swarmed through the land of Egypt. It was one of the ten deadly plagues that had hit Egypt according to the book of Exodus.

It was a dark cloudy day in Beijing, and just like the locusts did in Egypt, pollution did to Beijing. It blacks out the sun, suffocates the lungs, scorches the eye and continues to defile the body. Yes, the pollution in Beijing is a bodily threat and a force that cannot be contained.

How do I handle daily life while breathing this air?

  1. To buy or not to buy, a mask. Many people wear face masks, some with filters and others without. Some even wear scarves or ski masks. Personally, I do not wear masks with filters but I do wear the foam masks. Some of the most famous masks that are reputable are Vogmask, Cambridge mask, Breathe Easy, and 3M masks. I suggest ordering masks before moving to China because it can be hard to find quality masks online, or in stores.
  2. Air purifiers and humidifiers. Beijing is extremely dry and cold in the fall and winter which makes pollution even worse sometimes. Humidifiers will help you to breath and sleep at night. For those with asthma or other breathing problems you might want to buy an air purifier from Taobao. I have a friend here who is from the rural region of Germany, and he desperately needed an air purifier to sleep, and continues to wear a mask to sleep during the night. Another friend from a small town in Iowa has horrible reactions to the air, her eyes swell, burn, and turn red. In fact, she had to leave Beijing early because of her health.

Additionally, the pollution leads to a generally dirty living space. Over the days, dust, particles, and debris make their way into the living spaces through windows, under doors, shoes and even clothes. Normally one would sweep the floors one to two times a week. But here in Beijing, I regularly sweep the floors to avoid the build-up of pollution.

I believe the worst parts of living in Beijing is the pollution. Sometimes after a long day outside and sight seeing I felt a strong pull in my chest, loss of breath, and the need to limit movement. It’s a harsh reality of living in a still developing country.

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