China’s cities are experiencing record-breaking levels of air pollution. Fearing for their health, Shanghai’s traffic police department has distributed nasal smog filters to more than 200 officers in an effort to protect outdoor workers from air pollution in the city. If found to be effective, the nostril-sized pollution screens may be given to the entire police force.
In mid-January, residents of Beijing were ordered to stay inside or wear gas masks as the city’s smog levels went off the charts. And just days ago, Chinese officials confirmed the existence of pollution-choked “cancer villages,” which are caused by toxic chemicals and hazardous smog. The horrifying conditions in China are finally bad enough that officials announced a five-year plan to deal with the harmful effects of air and water pollution.
According to the Global Times of China, the filters fit discreetly inside a person’s nostrils, allowing wearers to speak and use their whistles without obstruction. Still, some have found the devices uncomfortable to wear, so after a trial period, the department plans to collect feedback to determine whether to provide the filters to the rest of the city’s traffic officers, according to a report in the Shanghai Evening Post.
I don’t know about you, but if my city were experiencing an “airpocalypse” I’d be thrilled to wear any device that prevented particulate matter and carcinogens from entering my lungs. Until recently, the only thing Chinese police officers got for working in potentially life-threatening conditions was a bump in pay.
In late January, as hospital admissions for respiratory illness reportedly jumped by 30 percent, Jinan, Shandong Province became the first city in the country to announce that its traffic police would wear masks on smoggy days, according to the traffic police department’s official microblog. Masks are an obvious inhibitor to necessary police communication and even a security threat because it hides officers’ faces. It’s hoped that the nasal filters will provide a temporary protection while officials figure out a way to permanently reduce pollution.