Canada is selling its clean air to China

The Washington Post | By Ishaan Tharoor

The air in China’s major cities, as has been well documented, is atrocious. Last month, the smog choking parts of the country was so thick that the situation got widely described as having reached “doomsday” levels.

On Friday, authorities in Beijing issued the second-ever “red alert,” warning of hazardous smog descending on the city over the next few days.

Chinese citizens documented the dark haze that is enveloping northern Chinese cities this week as air pollution levels jump far above the level considered safe by the World Health Organization. (Jenny Starrs and Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

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As concerns grow over the terrible health effects that living in such an environment can cause, some Chinese consumers are turning to a relatively unusual tactic: buying cans of clean air. Vitality Air, a Canadian company based in Alberta, bottles the cool mountain air found in the scenic Rocky Mountain resort town of Banff and sells it for upwards of $13 a canister. Overseas sales have picked up. Global News has more:

“We shipped a sample of 500 [bottles] to China,” Vitality Air co-founder Moses Lam said Wednesday. “They sold out within a week-and-a-half.”

He said the next shipment will be 4,000 bottles and approximately 1,000 of them are already pre-sold …

Customers have been buying bottles of Alberta mountain air on Taobao, China’s equivalent to eBay.

“People were buying 10 bottles at a time,” Lam said.

The company also said it has buyers in India; the air pollution in New Delhi was recently estimated as being one-and-a-half times worse than Beijing.


This is hardly the first time some wily opportunist has sought to cash in on China’s pollution. Well-known Chinese multimillionaire Chen Guangbiao claimed in 2013 that he had sold 10 million cans of clean air trapped in the relatively pristine region of Xinjiang, in China’s far west, for less than $1 a pop.

 

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