The most popular new accessory in China is arguably any of an assortment of face masks designed to protect users from toxic levels of air pollution and solar radiation. While inhaling particulate-laden hazardous air continues to be a concern for many Chinese people, citizens in China are buying masks to fight a different kind of hazard that can be found indoors: computer radiation.
According to Kotaku, the new masks began appearing in offices in 2009. The masks were popularized mostly by women with desk jobs who were concerned about the amount of radiation exposure they were exposed to due to hours of working in front of computer screens. Unlike the air pollution masks, which cover up the nose and mouth, these radiation-prevention masks cover up the entire face, only leaving small openings for the eyes, nostrils and mouth.
When the fad began, local news outlets investigated the masks' actual benefits, and they found that many experts and doctors debunked the radiation mask-makers' claims, saying they didn’t do much in terms of radiation prevention -- or aesthetics, for that matter. However, the radiation mask lives on. Beijing-based blogger Eric Jou said that of the twenty women in his office, six of them wore the masks for the extra layer of protection from the elements, and sometimes even from coworkers.
“I like wearing the masks, it hides my whole face from view,” one of Jou’s colleagues, identified as Yu, told him. “The masks hide my whole face so no one can see my expression.”
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Going on China’s version of Twitter, Weibo, is the best way to see a trend in action. A search for the anti-radiation masks yields approximately 40,000 results, in addition to some pretty funny pictures.
The masks purchased online on Taobao.com, a popular Chinese e-commerce website for about 10 dollars. While it’s pretty well understood that the masks don't do much in terms of combating radiation, they are still advertised as beauty products for keeping skin from drying out from monitor emissions.