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China Earth

Face Masks Provide Chinese With False Hope Against Pollution 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the breathable-air-is-a-crutch dept.
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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Face Masks Provide Chinese With False Hope Against Pollution

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  • by eric31415927 (861917) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @07:12PM (#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.

    • by msauve (701917)
      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.
      • by sjames (1099)

        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.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        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.

      • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @08:35PM (#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.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          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

        • I bought 3 boxes of the 3M 8210V respirator on Taobao, they are not hard to come by. Plenty of my Chinese coworkers also buy other types of 3M N95 masks.
          • "I bought 3 boxes of the 3M 8210V respirator on Taobao, they are not hard to come by. Plenty of my Chinese coworkers also buy other types of 3M N95 masks."

            I didn't say they weren't available. I wrote about them being in every neighborhood hardware store. Not the same thing.

      • by Mashiki (184564) <[mashiki] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday March 01, 2014 @10:01PM (#46379017) Homepage

        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."

        • by Firethorn (177587)

          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.

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            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.

            Oh, the laws probably have plenty of bite. The reality is if you have enough money to grease people the right way, such as in the melamine in the milk, rice, and a few other things it can go away for a very long time. And as a fun point, this continues to be a serious issue in Asia, especially with Japan and S.Korea and Chinese imports, not so much with the Americas or Europe which is rather odd.

            • by Firethorn (177587)

              For all the corruption we hear about in the USA and Europe, it's nothing compared to the majority of other countries.

              As for the laws, that's pretty much what I meant - grease the right wheels, which is easy, and you can indeed get away with that stuff for long periods of time.

              I think that it's because the USA has sufficient court and enforcement systems that any such activities aren't worth it - major companies dominate the market, it's too hard to form a 'fly by night' company selling stuff for a relativel

      • by jafiwam (310805)

        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.

        And that N95 masks are "professionally fit" and uncomfortable.

        Neither statement is true, first, they come in four or so sizes: small, medium, large and extra large. You put them on, tighten the straps a bit and bend the metal wire. They go for about 14 bucks for a box of ten. They have a metal band at the top just like medical masks.

        In fact it IS a glorified medical mask with the addition of an exhaust valve for exhaling.

        They are quite useful around the home if you ever do any type of home maintenance

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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,

  • by Rob Simpson (533360) * on Saturday March 01, 2014 @07:19PM (#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.
  • 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.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      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.

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      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.

      • For the paper masks in question you need to fit the metal nose-piece properly to your nose.

        I agree, for the rubber/silicone masks with filter(s) and exhalation valves there's no real fitting involved, but most people in China apparently aren't wearing those.

  • pollution (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrL0G1C (867445) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @07:21PM (#46378371) Journal

    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.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @07:27PM (#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.
    • 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.

      • by Piata (927858)
        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.
        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @08:27PM (#46378643) Homepage

          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'.

          • by DarkOx (621550)

            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.

        • by jafac (1449) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @01:55AM (#46379707) Homepage

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

        • 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.
      • 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.

    • by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @01:19AM (#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)

    • I was in charge of respiratory protection at one facility. These n95 masks should never be used for anything like asbestos. You need half [unbeatablesale.com] (pictured with hepa stacked with organics filter) or full [coleparmer.com] face silicone respirator masks with hepa filters. Those masks require you to be clean shaven and proper fitting. Any paper mask provides only rudimentary filtering. They should not be used when exposure to anything really hazardous is likely. In our case people were handling very large bulk shipments of quartz,

    • by floodo1 (246910)
      Sorry that your companies safety policies didn't expose you to the concept of respirator fit-testing. When I was working near asbestos, or even potentially near asbestos (unknown attics) we were required to get fit-tested for our respirators. Whose anecdote wins?
      • by dbIII (701233)

        Whose anecdote wins?

        Obviously both and the guy who quoted a standard above too.
        In other words I'm not playing a game even if you are.

  • 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?!

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @08:06PM (#46378547) Journal
      '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!'
  • by goldcd (587052) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @07:32PM (#46378423) Homepage
    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.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • by sjames (1099)

      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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CodeBuster (516420) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @08:50PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

          by sjames (1099) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:36PM (#46378919) Homepage

          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.

          • 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.
            • by sjames (1099)

              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.

            • by jafac (1449)

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

    • by timeOday (582209)
      In the meanwhile, tens of millions of people will be killed by the pollution [telegraph.co.uk]. But then, after that, I'll be fine.
  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @07:40PM (#46378449)

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

  • by NimbleSquirrel (587564) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @07:48PM (#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.

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

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Literally the only problem with respirators is beards. You just can't wear one if you have a beard. I mean, you can, but they don't work right. They kind of work once you've really sweated and your beard has matted down.

      I read an article about modifying a shower cap to fit over the bottom of your face and seal to the respirator.

      Not a big problem for China.

      In any case, any N95 respirator which is effective against organic solvents etc will work for them here. The filter will be fairly effective at trapping t

  • 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.
    • 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) ava

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 ocea

        • by MickLinux (579158)

          Very clearly, long before we used up the lithium, we would shift the infrastructure to provide the electricity live, thus vastly reducing the Lithium required. Or we would make the cars electric-with-fossil-generator.
          Only in a statist country would we define that 'everyone has to do the same thing'. and even then, other statist countries would do other things.
          And that also ignores wind as a recharge mechanism.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @08:00PM (#46378523) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • 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, especia
    • 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 d

      • The material of choice for cheapo masks seems to be cellulose, just because it's all nice and fibrous with minimal processing, largely borrowed from the pulp and paper industry; but I wonder if you could make maskes from fish head sludge?

        There should be plenty of collagen, which can be used to produce fibers and membranes (as with sausage casings and musical instrument 'gut' strings). On the minus side, those are hydrophilic, which could cause the filter membranes to swell and close because of breath moi
    • nhalations would likely favor any unfiltered imperfections in fit over a trip through the filters

      Good point.

  • by Tippler (3027557)

    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.

    • 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.

    • 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".
  • by sjames (1099) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @08:24PM (#46378629) Homepage

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

  • 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.

  • by germansausage (682057) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:21PM (#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.
    • 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.
    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      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 t

    • Which needs to have the little metal piece fitted to the bridge of the nose.

      And of course this type of mask is nowhere near as nice as a half/full silicone mask with separate filters.

  • by RubberDogBone (851604) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @11:01PM (#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.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      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.

      I've long, long wondered why face-masks don't come with a small battery pack and powerful DC fan. The fan increasing air pressure would certainly make it easier to inhale. How much easier for how much power, I've never bothered to figure out.

  • 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.)

    .
  • by mendax (114116) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @12:25AM (#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.

  • ...Wear a gas mask and a veil/Then you can breathe, long as you don't inhale!

  • This is what US and most European cities looked like in the 19th century. It's the face of unfettered capitalism.
    Any activity that enables our baser nature is destructive. It's what I believed in back in the 90s but after Bush and Obama, don't believe in now. Bush started it when it became clear that while we were willing to accept another quick mid-east war our leaders largely didn't care how long we stayed, Obama showed me how hollow and phony our two party political system is by continuing most of th

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