After this month’s repeated red alerts for smog, Chinese people inhale Canadian air from bottles. The red alerts issued for the first time by the Chinese government have closed schools and freeways, making more and more people unwilling to leave their homes.
The latest red alert has been issued on Friday for Beijing and other four major cities in China. In one of the cities, Tainjing, the concentration of particles smaller than 2.5 microns reached more than 500 micrograms/metric cube. These particles can be inhaled into the lungs from where they get into the bloodstream increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke, emphysema but also that of lung cancer.
The maximum amount of safe exposure recommended by the World Health Organization is 25 micrograms/cubic meter over a 24 hours period. That is 200 times less than what Chinese people are inhaling these days.
Each morning when they wake up millions of Beijingers check an app on their smartphone to see the quality of the air. This is how they decide if their kids should be allowed to play outside or not, to put on a mask or even to stay at home and turn on the air filter which is present in the homes of the middle class Chinese people but also in some of the office buildings.
The pollution is estimated to be killing 1.6 million Chinese every year while the cases of chronic asthma are also on the rise.
Many Chinese don’t trust the government anymore for doing efforts to keep them healthy and safe so they took individual measures they thought might be good for them. So they start buying bottles of clean air imported from Canada.
Vitality Air has opened to the Chinese market in 2014 and they are selling single or double cans of air for $16 to $46. The shipment they put on the market last week, of 500 bottles, sold out in only four days. Now the company has ordered other 4,000 cans which are on their way to China.
Another way to protect themselves is by wearing face masks. There is a mask model, 3M-N95 which blocks about 85percent of PM2.5 (particles measuring 2.5 microns) but at a price of over 100 yuan – about $20- it is considered too expensive by the majority of people so most of them continue to wear the simple cloth masks which only filter about 15 percent of PM2.5.
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