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Apple, Toyota give Beijing employees face masks to combat smog

Posting in Cities

China is known for its booming industrial scene, thirst for cars and in more recent times, its smog. Even as the Chinese government begins to try and control the air pollution problem, companies are taking matters into their own hands.

According to Bloomberg, Apple, Toyota, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Honda have all been adding additional plants to their facilities and given employees health advice and face masks to try and help.

For the fifth day in a row, air quality in Beijing has reached levels considered hazardous. Bloomberg writes:

"The concentration of PM2.5 was 297 micrograms per cubic meter at noon, compared to 302 at 10 a.m. The PM2.5 reading near Tiananmen Square was 242 at noon and had averaged 285 in the past 24 hours."

In response, Toyota has put more plants in its offices to try and marginally improve air quality, JPMorgan has provided health tips and is giving emergency kits including face masks to staff, and Honda has also granted roughly 100 employees masks. Apple has distributed face masks to its retail store staff, where the iPad and iPhone maker currently has three stores.

The Beijing government have said that levels of matter, PM 2.5, now often exceeds 300 micrograms per cubic meter -- which is comparable to the famous London smog that ended up killing over 10,000 people in the 1950s, and the severity is highlighted when you consider WHO recommends no more than 25 micrograms of exposure every 24 hours. Recent studies estimate that not only does air pollution cost the economies of Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an and Beijing $1.08 billion last year, but also caused 8,572 premature deaths.

Recently, Hong Kong's leader Leung Chun-ying said that in order to try and help combat the air pollution problem, the city will invest $1.3 billion in subsidies so consumers can replace their old diesel-powered vehicles.

Photo Credit: Ed Coyle Photography

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— By on January 30, 2013, 12:17 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure