China's Radiation Masks Sure Make Computer Work Interesting

China's Radiation Masks Sure Make Computer Work Interesting

Due to dodgy air quality, a good face mask is a must-have accessory for residents in China. While air-pollution masks are more and more common outdoors in China, another sort of mask is turning heads indoors: computer radiation face masks.

Called "fang fushe mian ju" (防辐射面具), the radiation prevention masks, unlike air-pollution masks, are are only used indoors — and typically in front of computers. Unlike normal face masks that cover the lower portion of the face (the nose and mouth), their computer radiation counterparts cover the whole face leaving openings for the eyes, nostrils, and mouth.

These masks aren't exactly new, they've been around for a while. First surfacing in 2009, they found fans among female office workers afraid of receiving unhealthy doses of radiation from looking at a computer screen for long hours at a time.

China's Radiation Masks Sure Make Computer Work Interesting
China's Radiation Masks Sure Make Computer Work Interesting

The masks even made the evening news that same year; however, the trend seemed to die down after reports appeared online saying the masks didn't do much to stop radiation. In an Xiamen News Online article, for example, there were doctors that said the masks do little because the amount of radiation from LCD computer screens were negligible.

However, these masks never really went away. Even as I sit writing this now in Beijing, a young group of women in the China Daily building where I work are sitting at their desks, wearing radiation masks. In an office of 20 women, six have these masks, two of which are currently wearing them. Anecdotal evidence, sure, and it's hard to say how widespread these are, but they still exist.

China's Radiation Masks Sure Make Computer Work Interesting

For some young women, the masks offer an extra layer of protection. According to one of my female colleagues who is surnamed Yu, she wears these masks because they help protect her skin from radiation. Yu, who edits and produces multimedia content, says she stares at a computer screen all day. Wearing the mask, she says can help her keep protect her complexion.

"I like wearing the masks, it hides my whole face from view," said Yu . "The masks hides my whole face so one can see my expression."

She said she purchased hers a month ago.

China's Radiation Masks Sure Make Computer Work Interesting

A search on China's micro-blogging Sina Weibo platform shows that there are close to 40,000 hits on the subject of computer radiation face masks. Some Weibo sers are have taken to showing off selfies of themselves wearing their face masks. Here are some from the past month or so:

China's Radiation Masks Sure Make Computer Work Interesting

@YuXuan-meilin: Check out what my roommate just bought. It kind of feels like wearing a diaper.

China's Radiation Masks Sure Make Computer Work Interesting

@浮生若梦Elinor: First day wearing the new computer radiation mask. Scared my dorm mates, and some even said I look like a bird... I'm starting to wonder if these things are for real.

China's Radiation Masks Sure Make Computer Work Interesting

@梁台台: Check out my new mask. Doesn't it look like a high class luxury item?

Contrary to news reports, sellers on China's mega e-commerce site, Taobao.com, still advertise the masks as effective in combating radiation. A typical mask sells for about 10 dollars and are made out of cloth like materials. On Taobao, these masks are marketed as a beauty product. They're meant to keep skin from drying out from the radiation that computer screens emit.

China's Radiation Masks Sure Make Computer Work Interesting

A look on Taobao shows a variety of different masks available for purchase. Some of these masks even offer something called "silver fibre lining".

China's Radiation Masks Sure Make Computer Work Interesting

There seems to be a disconnect with these masks. The same people who wear these face masks don't wear anti-pollution face masks when they go outside where the air quality is terrible. Then again, people do crazy things out of fear for radiation. When the Fukushima incident happened in Japan, many Chinese, myself included, went out and purchased iodised salt, which was reportedly able to help with radiation poison.

Seeing how I sit in front of an electronic screen most of my day, I think I might invest in one of these masks...if they really work, that is. Maybe I can find one that looks like a Lucha Libre mask?

Photos: 40ge, Baidu, hangzhou.com,Hudong.com, @YuXuan-meilin, @浮生若梦Elinor, @梁台台 ,Taobao.com


Comments

    What radiation would be coming from a computer screen these days? I thought it was just a thing from back in the old CRT days.

      None.
      Well, none which needs to be shielded, anyway. There is quite a lot of visible light from monitors, which is still radiation.

      Even with CRT screens it is negligible. The impact of the accelerated electrons on the phosphor screen produced some [low energy] x-rays, but they included lead shielding in the glass to block most of this.
      With LCD screens, there is absolutely ZERO ionizing radiation produced. These masks are completely useless and are a gimmick to take advantage of ignorance in regards to "radiation".

      We aren't immune here, even. I see ads for devices to shield from mobile phone "radiation"..... shit...
      Again, phones do not produce ANY ionizing radiation. They send and receive radio waves, which are a form of electromagnetic radiation in the radio part of the spectrum. People get put off by the word radiation. Visible light is also a form of electromagnetic radiation, and visible light photons have a higher energy than radio, but you don't see people putting on masks to protect themselves from lightbulbs........
      And don't get me started on microwave ovens............

      Physics, people. Don't be fearful of something you don't know. Be fearful of things that you DO know*.

      *Today Tonight is not a credible source of knowledge

      Last edited 29/10/13 12:49 pm

      What radiation would be coming from a computer screen these days?

      Non-ionising photons. Completely harmless. This stupid 'radiation mask' thing is a scam to separate vain, superstitious rubes from their money. Anywhere there's a buck to made from fear, there's someone ready to exploit it. But I'll hazard a guess it's also related to the Asian fixation on fair skin, facekinis are disturbingly popular on Chinese beaches.

    I can never understand this and the whole surgical mask during flu season thing. People come in contact with radiation and germs all the time.

    Ah well each to their own. I'll just sit here and enjoy my rad/germ cocktail.

      It is really misunderstood. Here in Japan, you wear a mask if *you* have the flu or a cold. It is polite not to spread your disease to other commuters or co-workers. It is not many people wearing masks to stop themself getting sick, mostly people who have a sickness being responsible not to spread it. Flu kills an average of 23,000 Americans each year. It is responsible not to spread it.

        Exactly.... the masks protect everyone else from you, not the other way around. I saw someone pull down the mask they were wearing so they could sneeze..... totally defeating the purpose.

          Makes sense. I did some research and found some articles to back it up. Thanks for the answers, I shouldnt be quick to judge.

          What about those used panty machines? What's that all about!? (you can ignore that one)

    I worked in China back in 2008 for 4 weeks. It was mentioned that the team didn't want to work with two monitors because of radiation. Amazed with this answer I asked why and was quickly shut down by the Ozzy who had been there for a while, with the simple answer of "you don't want to know" and that was it. To this day, I have no idea why.

    Irrational fears. Every country has them. Computer radiation in Japan, fan death in Korea, vaccination/autism stuff in many western countries.

      Fan deaths! don't get me started! I dont know how I survived child-hood my with spinning metal of death above my head, I often dreamed of that thing falling off and cutting me up in my sleep!

        For those who don't know, many Koreans still believe falling asleep in a room with a powered fan will somehow kill you. It's completely irrational and scientific, nor has not a single recorded case.

    Well they got their mask and I have my tin foil hat...so we'll call it even.

    As someone who works with actual radiation I find this pretty funny. They would get more 'radiation' from the lighting that they work in than from the LCD monitor they sit in front of.

    The ultra-violet rays and X-rays both get emitted out of the computer monitor and that can affect our skin so this mask looks cool and it will definitely help us in protecting our skin. Also we can use monitor covers as an alternative to these masks.

    http://goo.gl/EiQ7Bd

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