A photo of a nasal filter that police posted on their official microblog Photo: weibo.com
Shanghai's traffic police department has given nasal filters to more than 200 officers to test whether the devices are suitable to protect officers from air pollution in the city, local media reported Tuesday.
Because some have found the devices uncomfortable to wear, the department plans to collect feedback in March to determine whether to provide the filters to the rest of the city's traffic officers, according to a report in the Shanghai Evening Post.
The filters fit discreetly inside a person's nostrils, allowing officers to speak and use their whistles without obstruction.
The traffic police department has given out 240 nasal filters to officers who work on the street, said Sun Guofu, a department press officer.
An assistant traffic officer surnamed Chen said she was looking forward to using the devices, which she hopes will mitigate the effects of breathing automobile exhaust and polluted air all day. "We work outside for more than six hours each day, and we were ordered not to wear masks because they affect our ability to use our traffic whistles," she told the Global Times.
Chen, who was directing traffic at the intersection of Weihai Road and Chongqing Road North Tuesday, earns 2,000 yuan ($322) a month, including 100 yuan to compensate her for any damage to her health while working outside.
Although China has regulations that require employers to pay employees extra for working in hazardous conditions, so far there is no effective mechanism to protect them, said Ma Jin, standing dean for the public health faculty at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
On January 30, the Ministry of Public Security allowed frontline police officers to take protective measures on polluted days, such as swapping shifts and wearing masks, according to a news report on China Central Television.
On the same day, Jinan, Shandong Province became the first city in the country to announce that its traffic police would wear masks on smoggy days, according to the traffic police department's official microblog.
In 2012, there were 23 days when Shanghai's air quality index (AQI) surpassed 100, indicating light pollution, Fu Qingyan, chief engineer of the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center, said at a seminar Friday.
Shanghai's hourly AQI rose to 221 at 7 am Sunday, which indicated severe pollution, according to the Xinmin Evening News.