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www.wmfd.com - Beijing has been suffering through a rare orange level warning for pollution in recent days, as it's government's second worst rating, and as David McKenzie reports, a school for international families is taking some extraordinary measures to help students breathe clean air. }}" />

   
 
 
Beijing School Under Dome Takes Extraordinary Measures

Story By: Larry Stine

 

 

 
 
 
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  Original Published: 2/28/2014

Beijing has been suffering through a rare orange level warning for pollution in recent days. It's government's second worst rating. As David McKenzie reports, a school for international families is taking some extraordinary measures to help students breathe clean air. Recess at the International School of Beijing. So where are the students? All 1,900 of them, banned from going outside because the air is so bad. So bad, so often, the school's built an enormous dome to scrub out the pollution. "The dome cost around $5-million to build, and took nine months," says CNN's David McKenzie. "It has a soft Teflon-coated roof and the entire thing is pressurized, all so that these children can play in Beijing." Housing a soccer field and basketball courts, it's their strange reality of groing up in China. "It's usually grey outside," says Hanna Merritt. "Sometimes, it's like yellow," says Emily Merritt. Hanna and Emily Merritt know how to recognize a bad air day, and why they need the dome. "No gunk in your lungs," says Emily Merritt. "Why can't kids play outside?" asks McKenzie. "There are days here in Beijing, and sometimes a string of days in Beijing where the air outside is at a hazardous level," says Gerrick Monroe, International School of Beijing COO/CFO.. Tiny pollution particles threaten health the most because they get into the lungs, so they seal the air in and clean it with three giant filters, monitoring air quality levels twice a day at 25 spots around the school. In the past 10 days alone, the pollution levels outside have been up to 12 times the World Health Organization's acceptable rate. "It could be dangerous to go outside?" asks McKenzie. "It could be dangerous," says Monroe. "Prolonged exposure, especially as you are exercising out in those elements, has proven to be unhealthy and especially unhealthy for younger children with developing lungs. Most kids in other places if they wanted to run around to get some exercise they can go outside." Hanna and Emily have to wear their facemasks whenever they venture out. Their dad is a school administrator here. "We love the school, we love the work environment, we love the education our girls are getting," says Matthew Merritt, curriculum coordinator. "Probably put in anywhere else we wouldn't hesitate to stick around." But after six years in Beiking, he says the air quality has become a deal breaker. They're moving back home to the states. "Raising our kids with a lifestyle that is important to them," says Matthew Merritt. It seems that even the extraordinary measures they've taken here aren't always enough.

   
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