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7 ways for families to beat the Shanghai pollution

1. Buy a mask that actually works

Those surgical masks are doing nothing for you or your lungs – they‘re designed to stop germs getting out of your mouth, so are actually protecting the pollution from you, not the other way around. Worse, some fraudsters just got busted for selling fake 3M masks around town. Instead, you need to get yourself a mask you can trust and with a high number on the anti-haze index (an N90 mask for example, filters out 90 percent of harmful particles).

2. Order in....basically anything

Why risk going outside at all when you can get all manner of wonderful things delivered to your home, from an all-inclusive family Haidilao hotpot to a handy meal-kit? We live in Shanghai, after all, where almost anything is possible. You can even get somebody to come pamper your pooch.

3. Explore the great outdoors

Being stuck inside doesn’t have to be a total drag. Shanghai, for its sins, is absolutely stuffed to the gills with buildings, and some of them have absolutely brilliant things to do inside of them. Case in point: bubble football at Jingqiao arena, where you run around an indoor football pitch wearing a giant plastic bubble suit (which even serves as extra protection against the nasty pollution... well maybe, it can't hurt anyway).

4. Buy an air purifier

Ensure your home is a haven of health by investing in an air purifier – and there are a few on the market that won't break the bank, including the quirky-looking Danish-made 'egg' appliance Nathome LED Aroma Purifier for 299RMB, a DIY 'Smart Air' number for just 200RMB, and the portable Air-O-Swiss Travel Star Humidifier at 279RMB.

5. Download an AQI app

There are a number of good AQI apps out there, but we highly recommend China Air Quality Index, which allows you to select a city, displays readings for both the official government monitors around town and the US Consulate stations (where applicable) as info bars or on a map, and sends you push notifications whenever there is a major change in conditions.

6. Camp down at a botanical garden

Shanghai has two botanical gardens to choose from for your natural pollution solution. Chenshan Botanical Gardens is the larger and newer of the two, and features a series of classical Chinese-style gardens within its massive 200 hectare site. But our top pick is the Shanghai Botanical Garden: after paying the 40RMB entrance fee, get straight to the five-storey tropical house to enjoy your private rainforest oxygen supply.

7. Eat right, eat broccoli

We were once told that broccoli (and Vitamin C in general) helps the body repair from exposure to pollutants; since then, we've been breathing deep and eating it every day. Although evidence on the ground is a little light, there is a study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that beverages made from broccoli sprouts enhance detoxification of air pollutants. Close enough, we thought for a brief moment, but turns out the sprouts and the broccoli head have different nutrient make-ups – best to eat both and cover your bases.