The Daily Matter

Beijing's crazy, quick fixes for toxic air: canned air, bicycle-powered air filters

Can you blame them for trying? You can see the pollution from space

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 12:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 10:36pm

With air pollution at an all time high in the Chinese capital, Beijing's residents are coming up with novel ways to try to deal with the suffocating smog.

With Nasa's Earth Observatory showing this:

It's no wonder Beijing-based British artist Matt Hope wanted to design a bicycle that powers an air filter, as he rides through the city.

Elsewhere in Beijing, billionaire entrepreneur Chen Guangbiao is taking plans to sell canned air seriously. Here employees of his company give away cans of fresh air to pedestrians on a hazy day in central Beijing.

The cans of air were free on Wednesday, but usually sell for 5 yuan (HK$6) with proceeds going to poor regions of China and places of historic revolutionary importance. Sales, which had been moderate, took off after the recent streak of bad air days, with eight million cans sold in the last 10 days, said Chen. 

Flavours come in Post-industrial Taiwan, Pristine Tibet and Revolutionary Yanan, the site of one of the Communist Party's early bases.

Chen unveiled his plans to sell canned air last year, while raising awareness about the dangers of pollution from lead batteries on widely used electric bicycles. This time he says selling air is also about raising awareness about air pollution in China.

The Daily Matter isn't sure if these solutions really work, as the jury's still out on the efficacy of air filters. But for the long term, perhaps becoming less reliant on those coal power plants might be an option. Apparently China is burning as much coal as the rest of the world combined.