Choking in China? Try ’Pristine Tibet’ Air in a Can

Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- As north China chokes on toxic smog, a Chinese entrepreneur is offering a solution: canned air.

Millionaire Chen Guangbiao is selling fresh air in soft drink cans for 5 yuan (80 cents) a pop. The air comes in flavors including “Pristine Tibet,” “Post-industrial Taiwan” and “Revolutionary Yan’an.” A portion of the proceeds will go to charity, the International Business Times reports.

Chen, who began selling the canned air in September, told ABC News the effort was to raise awareness about the need for environmental protection in China. The philanthropist has also recently given away 5,000 bicycles to encourage people to bike instead of drive.

His message comes as China faces dangerous levels of air pollution. At the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, air quality reached hazardous levels on Tuesday for the 19th in 25 days, prompting canceled flights and warnings for people to stay indoors.

The concentration of PM2.5, fine air particulates that pose a health risk, averaged 300 micrograms per cubic meter Tuesday. PM2.5 levels had reached a record 755 on Jan. 12. The World Health Organization recommends exposure to no higher than 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period.

In face of such pollution, Chen’s cans of air -- and videos of people “drinking” them -- may seem like a silly antidote to the larger problem of high emissions in China and the far-reaching environmental effects. But it can’t be sillier than a “clean water” bar in New York City.

(Kirsten Salyer is the social media editor for Bloomberg View. Follow her on Twitter.)

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