Canned air reflects growing concerns over pollution

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, April 23, 2014
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At the opening ceremony of the pear flower festival in Beizhen City in northeast China's Liaoning Province on Saturday, some visitors walked away with souvenir cans of fresh air.

Inside the 1.5-liter sealed glass containers was fresh air said to be from a national forest park in the city. "Promoting longevity and cleansing lungs" was printed on the outside of the cans.

Festival organizers said the cans were given out to tourists for free and there is no plan to sell them yet.

Canned fresh air has been the latest fad in China as the country grapples with frequent suffocating smog in big cities. Yet experts say the novel product is more about performance art than consumerism.

Tourism departments in the provinces of Guizhou, Fujian, Zhejiang and Henan have also come up with canned fresh air as tourism souvenirs.

On, China's most popular online shopping platform, several stores have canned air for sale. In one store, a type of canned air from Guizhou Province is priced at 99.9 yuan (16.02 U. S. dollars) each.

In another Taobao store, air said to come from Mount Fuji in Japan is being sold at 168 yuan per can, and 51 cans have been sold in the past 30 days. One consumer commented on the product page that the air is "very fresh."

Liu Simin, guest researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the canned air won't become a new industry and it should not be produced on a large scale, since few people will be willing to buy them on a regular basis.

"It is better to use oxygen bags for health concerns," he said. "Only by staying in a fresh environment for a long time can people really improve their health, and it is quite meaningless to breathe cans of fresh air once in a while."

The true value of the products lies in the cans themselves, which usually have exquisite and creative designs, he added.

Jin Hui, a resident in Shanyang City, Liaoning Province, said he would not consider buying any canned air.

"If the environment is so bad that I have to rely on breathing canned air, I would rather move to another place," he said.

Zhang Baoyi, head of the research institute of sociology at Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences in Tianjin Municipality, said the canned air is performance art that reflects Chinese people's concerns over ecological degradation and their yearning for a breath of fresh air under the smoggy sky.

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