Wednesday, April 05, 2017

the very air we breathe

Air quality has been a recent topic of discussion in my office. A few weeks back, we received our very own air purifier/humidifier, and the boss put it to work immediately. It's a fairly quiet machine; there's a modest air-whooshing sound when the machine is on, but nothing obnoxious—no more obnoxious than my arguably noisier desktop fan. When I go on my thrice-daily mini-walks with my coworker, we talk about a variety of topics; yesterday, we focused on the air in Seoul. There's an Air Quality Index (AQI) that seems to work like this: 20 is excellent; 50 is good; 150 is unhealthy; 230 is dangerous. Beijing is around the 230 range, and Seoul is around the 150 range, although a certain website shows that air quality varies widely even on a local scale. Our office, located in southeast Seoul, is actually in one of the better—albeit still unhealthy—areas.

I didn't trust the purifier when it arrived; it seemed to do little more than hum/whoosh. But the lady whose job is to clean out the machine's filters came by yesterday, and when she saw the state of our machine's filter, she actually gasped and tut-tutted before she set about cleaning it. My boss looked at me with grim vindication and said, "See what it [the machine] is saving us from?" Now I'm a believer, and so is the rest of the country.


Charles said...

You would not believe how clean the air is here (when it is not raining or snowing). You can go out on a clear day and the sky is so blue you'd think someone had painted it on. It almost doesn't seem real.

The other day we were out walking around MIT, and the weather was absolutely amazing. HJ says, "It's going to be so sad when we go back to Korea." And she was (mainly) talking about the air.

(Also, the AQI is relative. HJ gets students from NZ who freak out if the air quality gets worse than 15, let alone 150.)

Kevin Kim said...

My coworker and I, out of curiosity, punched in "New York" after having seen the horrors of Seoul and Beijing. NYC came up in the 20s—rating "good" on the AQI chart. Quite a difference.

Charles said...

The air in NYC is surprisingly clean for a big city.