Hi and welcome to the Smog Blog! My name is Harriet Leyland and I’m a British doctor with a background in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine. After 5 years in anaesthesia, I moved to Beijing to work for a medical assistance company – International SOS.

I didn’t know what to expect coming to China and part of my job was talking to people who were similarly unprepared for many issues they were facing. Time and time again the problem of pollution came up. This was  in 2009 when pollution was reasonably contained by all the measures taken for 2008 Beijing Olympics. Factories had not yet started to re-open and fewer people had personal cars. Since then, I have seen an astonishing growth in both, resulting in ever-worsening pollution.

As the pollution problem was worsening I did research and developed reasoned answers to common questions and concerns. Some were as simple as purchasing an air purifier, others less intuitive such as airing rooms even on polluted days as the air quality inside is often worse than outside due to household appliances and cleaning substances. This website was set up to help people like my patients and other expats who move to China without knowing what to expect and how to keep themselves and their families healthy.

Since my time in Beijing I have made several moves down the AQI ladder. I spent time in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Ho Chi Minh City before returning to the UK earlier this year.

However, once you see the problem as vividly as you do in Beijing, you start noticing the same metallic taste in your mouth in cities around the world, concluding that air pollution is a global problem no longer localised to China. In fact, according to WHO air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk with more than 90% of Europeans exposed to annual levels of outdoor fine particulate matter above air quality guidelines. With millions of premature deaths annually, the air around us is clearly getting worse.

I’ll provide regular commentary on medical research in the world of air pollution, as well as newspaper articles and patient questions from my time in Beijing!

Disclaimer: The information presented herein represents the views of the author as of the date of publication. The publication is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing medical advice. While every attempt has been made to verify the information provided in this publication, the author assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions. If advice concerning medical, legal or related matters is needed, the services of a fully qualified professional should be sought. You should be aware of any laws/practices or local policies which govern patient privacy, emergency care or other prehospital care practices in your country.

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