Protective breathing mask sales soar in Beijing

World Today

Beijing residents biggest buyers of masks online

Beijing residents purchased more than one-sixth of all masks sold on Alibaba’s online shopping platforms in 2014, a report by AliResearch and AliHealth said on Sunday.

That means that Beijing, with a population of a little over 20 million people, less than 2 percent of the country’s population, bought over 16 percent of the nation’s masks last year. The report, however, didn’t reveal the exact amount of masks that Beijing residents bought.

Demand for masks and air purifiers has soared in recent months due to the worsening air quality in the capital and other cities across northern China.

Beijing saw only five days of blue skies in November and seven in December so far, with two rounds of a red alert being issued.

Beijing residents biggest buyers of masks online

A red alert means almost half the city’s cars are forced off the roads on any given day, while construction and factory production is restricted. Schools are closed and residents are advised to avoid outdoor activities.

Another wave of smog is set to hit northern and central China from Monday night to Wednesday. Weather authorities say Beijing and its surrounding areas will see light to medium haze, with medium to heavy pollution.

However, while people are buying masks to fight against smog, counterfeit masks are rampant on the market.

In early December, police in coastal provinces across China busted underground workshops that produced over 970,000 pieces of anti-pollution masks, which didn’t meet the quality standards.

Those masks, authorities said, were unable to filter pollutants and even posed a threat to the health of consumers.