Novel Hazards Associated With Chinese Stairwells (and living here)

By popular demand (you know who you are), promoted from twitpic to the blog:


[Clarification, also by popular demand: the sign hangs in a stairwell]

For the record, this fulfills Shanghai Scrap’s official allotment of exactly ONE Chinglish-related post per Blog Year. An allotment established because, really, nobody at Shanghai Scrap HQ has any business looking askance at the foreign language skills of others.

In other health and safety news: a hearty, hearty recommendation for James Fallows on the (still unclear) health effects of being an expatriate in China. This is a subject near and dear to my heart: a few years ago, during a routine physical on a visit home to the United States, I asked for a blood test to check the lead levels in my bloodstream. The attending physician was skeptical, until I told him that I live in China. Then he did it, and a few days later called back to tell me that – he’ll be damned, but – I had elevated levels of lead in my blood. Maybe it was the air; maybe the paint on my apartment walls; or maybe the water used to clean the food that I eat. Whatever it was, he assured me that I’d probably be fine so long as I wasn’t planning to get pregnant or revert to being 12, again (note to self …). Since then, I’ve heard of other expats – some capable of becoming pregnant – who’ve had the same test, and the same results. And most of us are still here, and so far at least, we’re okay (which is sort of the Fallows point).

For the record, I think it’s worth recalling that most of the Chinese who have been, and are, our friends and neighbors are still here, too – breathing and eating many of the same things as we are. But, unlike us, most of them don’t have the option to leave. So, as much fun as it is to wonder whether or not China is killing the foreigners, pondering the long-term effects of China on the Chinese, is probably a better use of everybody’s time (also a point that Fallows makes).

And on that note, I declare it Friday.


  1. Scrappy – Yes, that occurred to me. But I don’t spend nearly as much time in those joints as you might think. A visit here, a visit there, and not nearly enough to poison me. Comes down to other issues.

  2. Could be the food. Lots of farmers use untreated river water to water their farm lands. Do you eat a lot of Veges?

  3. Hey Sean – Yes, I do. And I think that’s probably the issue. A little unsettling, isn’t it?

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