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I've read that pollution in Beijing often makes exercise unwise. Do the masks actually make any difference?

I'm more interested in bicycling in other places, especially Foshan & Guangzhou.

  • Or is this a question better asked in "Bicycling"? – Happy Hobo Dec 30 '15 at 2:04
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about bicycling. I think it is better to ask it in Bicycles.SE – Nean Der Thal Dec 30 '15 at 2:10
  • Masks block only a portion of the pollution, so help, but are not a solution. When pollution is bad, it is better to stay indoors. – user13044 Dec 30 '15 at 2:13
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    @HeidelBerGensis - while the OP did specify bicycling, I think the issue applies equally to travelers going to China and doing things outside in the pollution. – user13044 Dec 30 '15 at 2:14
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    @HeidelBerGensis not sure I follow the logic that the whole trip should discussed, as most questions here are about singular aspects of a trip and it seems that discussing the safety aspects of using masks during outdoor activities on a visit to China right now seems to fit well in Travel. – user13044 Dec 30 '15 at 2:59
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Like @Tom said in the comment :

Masks block only a portion of the pollution

The problem with the Chinese haze is due to 2 types of particles : pm10 and pm2.5 and those last ones (pm2.5) are really small and you can't protect yourself even when wearing a mask. Event if the mask specially mentioned "works against pm2.5" because they are lying.

I used to lived there during one year and most of the embassy recommendations during high pollution days were : stay home, close windows, and no physical activity at all.

You can check real time pollution level of each particles with a lot of mobile apps like this one China Air Quality.

  • No, I'm not the developer of this app ;) – Tiekeo Dec 30 '15 at 13:07
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    The review comments on that app complain that the Chinese block pollution reports from the U.S. Embassy. Should that be interpreted as a hint that the U.S. Embassy is more accurate? And the app apparently can show different cities, so perhaps it could be used to answer the specific question about "other places, especially Foshan & Guangzhou" – WGroleau Dec 31 '15 at 5:14
  • My father taught English in Guangzhou in 1990 and never mentioned pollution, but since that was 25 years ago, ... – WGroleau Dec 31 '15 at 5:16
  • @WGroleau : yes US Embassy reports are more accurate and are sometimes blocked by the Chinese I suppose but very often the Chinese numbers are sufficient to know if you have to wear a mask or if air pollution is suitable for outdoor activities. Actually this app may also give you reports about a lot of other cities in China. – Tiekeo Jan 4 '16 at 9:35
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Did a quick web search. The first hit, not only shows hourly reports for Guangzhou, but it also has a chart of recommendations for different levels, and says that there are IOS and Android apps to get the U.S. Embassy's version. Whether China's "great firewall" prevents it from working, I cannot say. They imply it can be found in Apple's U.S. store, but not so.

Today's levels in GuangZhou are "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups."

There is a link to stateair.net which has more info and allows one to download the historical values for the entire year.

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