Pollution in China has reached a certain critical level of absurdity. The air quality is so egregious that cities are closing factories, releasing drones, and trying to use cannons to shoot clean air into the sky.
In addition, some desperate citizens, tired of donning face masks and shunning the outdoors, have reportedly resorted to perhaps another kind of absurdity—buying bottles of fresh air.
The bottles are coming from Vitality Air, a Canadian company that says it was founded in 2014, and which appears to focus singularly on selling “premium quality” air to heavily polluted parts of the world. A seven-liter bottle of “Lake Louise Air” or “Banff Air”—both of which refer to the names of national parks in Canada—sells for as much as $25. A twin pack of 10-liter “premium oxygen” costs $36.
Vitality Air co-founder Moses Lam, a University of Alberta business graduate with a day job at a bank, was quoted in Global News as saying the business has seen a surge of demand from China in recent weeks, following a particularly severe bout of pollution that hit Beijing earlier this month. A sample of 500 bottles his company shipped to the country sold out within a week and a half, he claimed. The next shipment of 4,000 bottles includes 1,000 that are already pre-sold.
Some of the bulging demand likely comes the fact that Vitality Air, which has been selling for about six months now, just started pushing its products on Taobao, the Chinese equivalent of eBay. The air bottles—which are seeing increased demand in India now, too—are apparently filled with fresh air “through clean compression” from the Rocky Mountains.
Vitality Air’s website does not elaborate any further on the process. Quartz has reached out to the company and will update this post with any comment.