Do locals just not care about air pollution or...?

For context, I work at a public school in Kaohsiung. The air quality has been unacceptably bad the past 2-3 months(years/decades probably?) and I don’t know how to process how the local teachers and administrators seem to ignore it completely.

Every classroom has large commercial grade air purifiers (ironically donated by one of the companies who causes a lot of the pollution).

Almost NONE of the teachers in the school choose to actually use them.

I walk by the classrooms and all of the windows and doors are open, the air purifiers are not turned on. Or, even dumber, all the windows and doors are open and the air purifier is turned on, showing an insanely high readout of PM 2.5. And they still choose to leave all the windows open.

Today, for example, the AQI is 150+ here. Red-level dangerous. Nobody seems to know/care. Kids are doing P.E. class outside, running around the track. There was a 35 minute school assembly this morning outside.

Since I occasionally have to go to the students’ homeroom classrooms to teach classes, I see this every day. The air purifier sits in the back of the classroom not being used, or, like today again, it shows PM 2.5 levels of 90+. Fucking 90. Why are all the windows open? I would think elementary school teachers in particular would care about the fact that PM 2.5 is especially dangerous for children, and want to avoid exposing them to it as much as possible.

Luckily most of the time I have a set classroom that I share with the local English teacher. Every day for the past 3 months when I come in the classroom and see that she has all the windows and doors open, and is not using the air purifier, I immediately close all windows/doors and turn the air purifier on. It baffles her that I do this. So I showed her the PM2.5 readout on the air purifier (she didn’t know what that number meant or even what PM2.5 is), told her what range is considered to be a healthy range, even showed her a few articles talking about PM2.5 and its dangers. She seemed to get it.

Still, every day without fail when I come in it’s the same thing. Windows/doors open, no air purifier. It’s like the process “Come in classroom – open all windows and doors” is just ingrained in her.

When I ask her why she says “Because all the other teachers have their windows/doors open so I need to too.” or “I’m not used to using the air purifier” (it’s not like it’s hard you just turn it on and let it work). Or my personal favorite, “還好吧, 我們還很年輕” (it’s ok we’re still young)

So at this point I just really don’t know how to perceive their lack of caring. Is it just really that they don’t care? Willful ignorance because most of them are from Kaohsiung and will never leave Kaohsiung?

There are a lot of cultural differences and things that I just kind of go along with here and don’t try to/want to change how the local teachers do things. But this one just drives me crazy and I can’t wrap my head around it.

That’s my rant. Thoughts on this? Your experience trying to talk to locals about the pollution?

TLDR version:
Air quality is dangerous. Local teachers don’t care. Don’t use provided air purifiers. Refuse to close windows. Let kids play outside in red-level air. Why?

Right or wrong, people get used to air. It seems normal after a while, and it is in this context. People have to live.

Well, that is true. Cannot leave Kaohsiung so easily to go to Greenland instead. But there is an option easier than this: Turning on the air purifiers and closing the windows. Why do they not do this? Probably because the danger is invisible and health effects are not immediate. Kind of like smoking, drinking, unhealthy lifestyle etc.

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People seem to believe in the value of air circulation here traditionally, so there’s a disposition to keep windows open and let the “fresh air” in. Even if polluted a lot of people will prefer it to the perceived dangers of being in an enclosed space “密閉室”, I think.


Looking forward to the comments on this thread.

But yes to your question, like tempogain already said, when you live there so long you get used to the air and they probably don’t even notice it after a while.

They certainly notice it. I hear off-handed comments all the time from teachers like “wow the air is really terrible today.” But they still don’t do anything about it. Almost as if there’s some disconnect between knowing about it and taking action to do something about it. (just turning on the god damn air purifier makes a huge difference.)

Must be this. As evidenced by my younger co-teacher saying it doesn’t matter since we’re young.

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Before the covid19, my kid’s school did not open windows and doors when air quality was not green, for a few years? But after the covid19, they often or always open windows.

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Oh the fresh air…


Many people don’t realize that you need to keep windows closed for an air purifier to be effective. They confuse fresh air with good air. What needs to be done is open the windows for an hour or so first thing in the morning (when the air is relatively better) to allow fresh air to circulate, and then shut the windows and turn on the air purifiers for the rest of the time.


I would agree, except the air is not even good in the morning. On my way to work at 745AM the AQI is already well over 130 a lot of days. Was well over 150 this morning at 7. It’s not like this every day but it happens way too frequently.

Same here. I understand letting air circulate because of Covid. Our school no longer has that mandate though and even when they did they didn’t mandate that every single window had to be open. But I take your point. Good your kid’s school does that. I’m guessing its not in the south? The windows would never be open… It’s never green here.


Another important piece of context is that for several decades the air in Taiwan was significantly worse than it is now. When something is gradually improving, it’s hard to view it as a negative. It looks different for those of us coming from places where it is better.


You can’t fix stupid.

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Good thing that you are edifying. I think asking why is an interesting/natural thing to do, but embracing and acting on the teachable moment is/will be most rewarding. You go, teacher!

There is a lot of research that air position damages health…Both adults and kids…notably it also damages kids IQs according to do some studies


maybe some studies wrong, looks like more air pollution better IQ,lol

Ranking Country Average IQ
1 Singapore 107.1
2 China 105.8
3 Hong Kong 105.7
4 South Korea 104.6
4 Taiwan 104.6
6 Japan 104.2
7 Finland 100.9
8 Canada 100.4

You teach to a standard test you get good results. Colour me :hushed:

Good at selecting a few schools and training for tests more like it.

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My boss says let the fresh air in … and I say it’s not fresh air it’s dust storm.
They don’t know about air pollution unless somebody fart.