China's smog problem has gotten so out of control that Beijing issued the first ever red alert for air quality on Dec. 8 and closed down many schools, roads, and construction sites. With no clean air to breathe, especially in the winter months when much of Northern China relies on burning coal for warmth, one Canadian start up is offering an alternative - Compressed air from the Rocky Mountains.
Vitality Air is the company that is selling clean air to China and other nations at the price of $14 to $20 a canister, depending on the volume.
The company claims that their first batch of 500 cans of clean air went on sale in China last month and the clear-air hungry customers snatched them all up within just two weeks.
Moses Lam, the cofounder of Vitality Air said the idea to sell clear air came after a bag of clean air in a ziplock bag was sold on eBay for 99 cents. These days, he spends four hours every few weeks to drive from his home in Edmonton to Banff to collect and bottle clean air from the region. A process that takes up to 10 hours.
"It's time consuming because every one of these bottles is hand bottled. We're dealing with fresh air, we want it to be fresh and we don't want to run it through machines which are oiled and greased," he said.
According to Lam, although the canned Rocky Mountain air is merely a novelty item, the Chinese market on the other hand, sees it as a product with real value. Many citizens are seeing the real dangers of the smog and are looking for any way to combat the problem, even if it means importing pure, clean air.
However, experts are warning that importation of air is not a solution. Only filtration will be able to remove the "invisible killers" from China's air, said Wallace Leung, a professor from Hong Kong Polytechnic University who is leading a research on the effectiveness of face masks.
Meanwhile, Vitality Air sales are increasing. The company's director of China operations, Harrison Wang, reported that they are currently accepting preorders for the next shipment which is already closing in on the 1,000 units mark.