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500,000 Breathing Masks Sold in China

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...in two days. ABC's Kaijing Xiao has the story:

According to the figures released by Taobao and Tmall, China’s two biggest shopping websites, 500,000 masks were sold in two days. That number was three times more than the previous week.

The air quality index, or “AQI,” is how both the U.S. Embassy and Chinese government computes air quality. As set by the Environmental Protection Agency (China uses its own environmental agency) the AQI measures five different pollution components. PM2.5, or particles smaller than 2.5 microns, are considered the most harmful to your health because they get deeper into the lungs and can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Short-term effects of air pollution commonly include coughing, shortness of breath, eye irritation, headaches, nausea and dizziness.

It has been three days since I got back to Beijing, I haven’t seen the shape of the sun yet, and my chest has been feeling a consistent pain. Because Beijing sits in a basin, once the bad air gets in only a strong wind can push it out. Winds are expected in the coming days, and they can’t get here soon enough.

And it only appears to be getting worse, according to James Fallows:

The readings in the past few days have been in the previously unimaginable 700s-and-above range, reported as "beyond index" by @BeijingAir. The worst I have personally seen in Beijing was in the high 400s, and that day I did not understand how life could proceed any further in such circumstances. The conditions this weekend have been much worse