Surgical Mask Francis Totobobo

NPR Got These Facts About Masks Wrong

As wildfires were raging across the American West this summer, NPR ran a story on pollution masks people can use to protect themselves from all that air pollution. As a non-expert nerd who has dedicated years to understanding how to live under Beijing’s particulate cloud, I was eager to see … Read more

How Long Do Air Pollution Masks Last?

There’s good data showing that masks (including surgical masks) really can stop pollution and even have demonstrated physiological benefits. Masks work. But one place data is lacking is for air pollution mask lifespan. Just how long do air pollution masks really last?     Really Just One Day?   I frequently … Read more

San Francisco’s Air Pollution

A friend of mine just sent me this map of air pollution in San Francisco from the San Francisco Chronicle. Using the latest PM2.5 data, I created a map for China using the same scale: Based on that scale, China’s best city (which is Haikou, according to the World Health Organization database) … Read more

How’s the Air in Nepal?

A user on Quora asked recently how bad the air pollution in Nepal is. Nepal has glorious mountains and shining temples. But how is the air? I checked the World Health Organization’s global PM2.5 database. According to that database, Kathmandu’s PM2.5 particulate pollution averaged 49 micrograms/m3 in 2013:     … Read more

Is Asbestos a Problem in India?

What is Asbestos?   Asbestos is a mineral that makes a great fiber. People use that fiber in lots of building materials, like insulation, paints, electric wiring, wall boards, and floor tiles. It might be all around us.    Should I Be Concerned?   When any of these materials break apart, … Read more

Is Asbestos in China a Problem?

Asbestos in China is a commonly used building material, and it may be more dangerous than formaldehyde. So why do so few people talk about asbestos in China? Contrast that with other pollutants. One day a few years ago, a Chinese friend of mine asked me about jiaquan (甲醛). “Huh?” I … Read more

How Much Pollution Do We Breathe Every Day?

How much pollution do we actually breathe in every day? Are masks or air purifiers more benefiting to our health? Do we really need both? The answer to this comes down to how and where we are spending most of our time every day.  There are two possible theories: masks might … Read more

Do Air Purifiers Work With the Window Open?

Will my air purifier still work if I have a window open? New test data from Smart Air finds that air purifiers can still meaningfully reduce particulate pollution in a room with a window cracked.  Here’s what to know: The Obvious: Air Purifiers Most Effective With Windows Closed No one … Read more

Independent Tests

Beijing-based Dr. Saint Cyr’s tests of air purifiers were one of my original inspirations for the whole DIY project, so I was happy to see that the DIY recently became a part of those tests:     These are the first independent tests of the DIY, and the results parallel … Read more

Smart Air is a social enterprise that creates simple, no-nonsense air purifiers and provides free education to protect people’s health from the effects of air pollution. We are proud to be the only certified B-Corp dedicated to fighting air pollution.