9 things that make air pollution bearable

Artist Chiu Chih poposes a natural oxygen backpack.

Story highlights

  • Beijing residents have invented ways to make life bearable under the smog
  • The Infipure mask makes air-filtering nearly undetectable
  • Banshirne is an app that helps predict the next clean air day
  • Artists are also coming up with creative solutions for pollution, such as a smog vacuum
Beijing may have to wait another 16 years before it will have safe, clean air, according to a report from the capital's environmental authority earlier this week.
But it's hardly alone in its air pollution woes. The World Health Organization has said that roughly half of the world's urban population is exposed to pollution at least 2.5 times higher than it recommends.
Air pollution is now the single largest environmental health risk, with an estimated 7 million deaths globally in 2012 caused by air pollution, according to a report from the health agency in March. Most of the worst polluted cities are in Asia.
While it may take years to fix this global problem, innovative minds in the Asia region have come up with creative solutions for living with air pollution.
Face mask couture
Can face masks become fashionable? Beijing-based designer and body painter Nina Griffee hopes so. She has created a line of womenswear that incorporates air filters made by Vogmask.
Face slap designs clothes incorporating face masks
The dramatic designs in basic black with fuschia highlights will debut at the Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer between July 7 and 10.
Some of the looks are reminiscent of burqas, covering the entire head and face, with just the eyes of the wearer exposed -- but it will sure keep the body protected from air particles.
DIY purifier
Thomas Talhelm started worrying about the air inside his Beijing home during "airpocalypse" in 2013 when Beijing's air quality index skyrocketed to a terrifying 755 -- a 500 reading is considered hazardous for health, meaning people should avoid outdoor activity.
The Fulbright scholar couldn't afford the luxury of an expensive air purifier.
"It got me thinking, why are these air purifiers so expensive? How do they work?" Talhelm said.
"Filters are actually very simple -- an HEPA filter is all you need to get over 99 percent of the PM 2.5," he said, referring to particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers that can penetrate deep into lungs, leading to fatal diseases.
With three of his friends, Talhelm created Smart Air, an air purifier consisting of a basic household fan with an HEPA filter attached to it.
It works as efficiently as the big brands selling for thousands of dollars, removing more than 90 percent of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM 2.5) in your room, according to Talhelm's research.
The affordable Smart Air filter for indoors.
Smart Air has sold over 3,000 basic air purifiers so far and has doubled their staff.
Talhelm said the group is currently touring China, holding DIY workshops to show how easy it is to build your own purifier for RMB 200 (about $30).