Deep Breathing in Beijing: Air Pollution Interview

air pollution

I subscribe to a free weekly email at, whose goal is “to introduce Beijingers to one new cool thing each week”. A couple weeks ago they had a more serious piece on air pollution, with an interview by Dr Will Chickering, an emergency doctor at United Family hospital. Like myself, he is also a Beijing air pollution info-junkie and likes to share his public health perspective with Beijingers. I think it’s a great review, very quick and accessible, so I wanted to pass it along to my readers as well. You can read the full article here (Take a Deep Breath). Here’s a snippet:

Q: Help us put the air quality issues in perspective: if we (again, “we” being those of us without a history of respiratory issues) exercise outside on polluted days, does that mean that we are going to die from some lung-related condition, or is it still more likely that heart disease or cancer is going to get us in the end?

A: All that said, most expats really don’t have to worry about serious health effects from Beijing air. I have only been able to identify two groups who run even a small risk: (1) those who do or might have underlying coronary artery disease (in whom acute exposure to traffic fumes rarely triggers a heart attack) and (2) those with immature lungs—in other words, young children (a tiny portion of whom might develop asthma or have diminished lung growth). For both groups, a HEPA air purifier in the bedroom makes sense. For the older folks, all the stuff useful in reducing the likelihood that an arterial plaque might go rogue is recommended, with the highest on the list being exercise, then Omega 3 fatty acids from fish and (if doctor-recommended) aspirin.

Again, the full article is here (Take a Deep Breath).

Follow me on:
Twitter @RichardStCyrMD
Facebook @BainbridgeBabaDoc

Leave a Reply