Portable ‘Fresh air-bags’ come to the aid of Chinese smog-ridden city

Chinese citizens who aren’t wealthy enough to join the “It’s-too-polluted-so-I’m-moving-away” bandwagon just got another opportunity for fresh air — and this one comes in a convenient plastic bag.

An unnamed Chinese travel company this weekend reportedly brought large, bright blue bags of fresh air from a nearby mountain to city dwellers in Zhengzhou, one of the 10 most polluted cities in the country. According to reports and photos in both the Wall Street Journal and Daily Mail, residents clamored for a chance at the bags, which hooked up to people’s faces like oxygen masks.

Because of demand, locals were only allowed to breathe in the air — which came fromLaojun Mountain — for a few minutes each, according to news reports.

“The air is really good, but the time is too short,” Feng Lin, 75, told the Daily Mail. “I had to stop too soon but it was really great until then.”

The constant news of China’s choking air pollution generally conjures up images of Beijing, the populous capital city. Smog levels there routinely amaze, last week rising to ten timeswhat experts consider safe.

But Zhengzhou, a populated city nearly 500 miles south of the capital, has at timesoutranked Beijing in pollution levels. This can be partially attributed to nearby coal yards, many of which Chinese officials recently discovered were operating without devices to capture or otherwise prevent harmful particulate matter pollution.

China’s smog is mainly made up of a type of particulate matter called PM2.5, which is produced by burning fossil fuels like coal. Prolonged exposure to PM2.5 increases risks of cardiovascular disease, lung inflammation, asthma, and premature death, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

By Emily Atkin

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