Chinese smog drives masks out of stock

Feb 27, 2014, 09:00 IST | Agencies

As consumers rush to protect themselves from smog that has shrouded the nation, the biggest online seller of face masks said that their stock is over

Beijing: China’s biggest online face mask sellers were running out of stock yesterday as consumers rushed to protect themselves from smog that has shrouded large swathes of northern China for a week.

Masked! Locals of Beijing venture out with face masks owing to the gritty air. This is the sixth continuous day that the nation has been enveloped in thick smog. Pic/AFP

Beijing’s official reading for PM 2.5 — small airborne particles which easily penetrate the lungs — stood at 501 micrograms per cubic metre on Wednesday afternoon. The World Health Organisation’s recommended safe limit is 25.

The capital was on its sixth day of an ‘orange’ smog alert — the second-highest on the scale — with the air tasting gritty and visibility down to a few hundred metres.

The choking smog has seen sales of anti-pollution products boom and online face-mask stores were struggling to meet demand.

Of the 29 models of face masks provided by US industrial and equipment supplier 3M’s flagship store, 26 were sold out or unavailable.

The sellers said new stocks would not be available until April 1.

“I’m looking for face masks and an air purifier as the smog is getting worse. And then I found masks were sold out. Is everybody panicking?” complained a user.

>> China on its sixth day of an ‘orange’ smog alert, second highest on the scale
>> Out of 29 face mask models, 26 have been sold out or unavailable
>> PM 2.5 levels are at 501; 25 is the safe limit

School closed

A school defied education authorities by keeping its junior high department closed on Wednesday. “Due to the city’s air quality forecast... the junior high section will continue to use the online study and question and answer model on February 26,” said the Affiliated High School of Peking University amid concerns about children’s health.

Statues get masks
After being cooped inside because of the bad air, a psychology student at Peking University ventured out to place the masks on campus statues of Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes, Communist Party co-founder Li Dazhao and a sage practicing tai chi. “I was feeling really low, so I came up with this idea,” Jiang Chao said. Seeing the masked statues, a social media user said, “This is a silent protest!”

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