Should I open the windows on polluted days? Daily ventilation is important to eliminate indoor air pollutants and keep a healthy CO2/O2 ratio. We recommend opening all windows for approximately 20 min daily. On very polluted days (AQI 200 and higher) however, you should keep your windows shut, but not longer than 3 days in a row. A clean air conditioning unit with outdoor air inlet and HEPA filters is a good alternative for ventilation, especially on polluted days.
Check AQI values

Do standard air conditioners in Shanghai filter PM 2.5?

No, unfortunately not. Air conditioning systems in homes, schools and offices usually contain simple filters, which eliminate bigger dust particles and humidity, but not PM 2.5 or VOCs.  

Do I need an air purifier? Which brand do you recommend?

It is strongly recommended that you purchase a suitable air purification system while living in Shanghai. Standalone versions reduce air pollutants, but far less effectively than built-in versions combined with air conditioning, especially for spacious rooms. A constant air flow and distribution in the whole room is important for good results.

Can I use tap water for bathing my kids?

That depends on the compound you live in. Some have pre-purification filters for their tap water and some don't. The quality of the filters also varies. To be sure, get your tap water tested!  

is pollution related damage reversible?

Some of the health issues are reversible, like acute coughing and headaches. But a lot of the changes caused by pollutants stay. To know for sure about your specific risks, make an appointment with Dr. Baum (Parkway Health) for an environmental-medical consultation.

Why are children more at risk than adults?

Children take in a larger amounts of pollutants for their size compared to adults. In addition, there is the concern that normal growth and development may be affected by certain toxic substances.

What are the main sources of lead in Shanghai? How can I protect my kids?

Most lead is found in soil and dust, but it is also present in certain paints, plastics and metal items. As children, smaller ones especially, commonly put many objects into their mouth, they may be at special risk. A regular check of the blood lead level is recommended in polluted cities and is mostly covered by health insurance.

You can also protect your family by providing a healthy diet, especially rich in calcium, iron and vitamins. A high calcium level minimizes the storage of lead in bone cells

Which food is safe to eat?

Food poisoning is not a problem in Shanghai as usually the hygiene standards are good, so that you can go to restaurants and even enjoy street food without fear. A more serious issue however is the pesticide content, which is a long-term risk. There are huge differences in contamination of food items, with some being free of pesticides and some showing a high load. For more detailed information attend one of our health workshops.

Do masks really reduce the intake of pollutants?

Yes, if they are well fitting and of good quality. Choose a mask which filters particles smaller than PM 2.5. Standard N95 for example means that the mask filters 95% of all dust particles bigger than 0.3 micrometers. The form of the mask has to seal well around nose and mouth so that as little air as possible is breathed in through the gaps between the mask and the user. Vogmasks show the best performance in tests; there are also special models for children.

How dangerous is the pesticide sprayed in parks and compounds?

The most commonly-used pesticide is Imidacloprid. It is an insecticide which interferes very specifically with the insect's cellular functions and is not toxic to humans.