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Chinese company counters pollution by importing fresh air

Citizens line up for bags of that sweet, sweet mountain air

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Citizens in a smog-choked part of China have been queuing for bags of air imported from the country's mountain regions.

According to both the Wall Street Journal and the Chinese state-run China News Service, a promotional campaign has been offering users the opportunity to take hits from pillow-sized bags of air collected in the Luanchan County region and transported to the smog-addled city of Zhengzhou.

The "fresh air" giveaway is said to be the work of a local travel company looking to lure residents of the Henan Province capital out to the mountainous regions with the promise of all the fresh air they can breathe.

Pollution levels have reached epidemic portions in many of the densely populated regions of mainland China as the country finds itself rushing to accommodate the demand for increased industrial production and power requirements.

In recent months, officials have had to issue a number of warnings to citizens over air levels which have reached as high as 4000 per cent of the recommended concentrations of pollutants. The thick smog has hampered visibility and forced pilots to make blind airport landings at its worst.

In some regions, the constant pollution has impacted the local agriculture to the point where researchers likened the damage to crops to that experienced under a nuclear winter scenario.

Some travel agencies have seized upon the epidemic to launch publicity stunts underscored the extent to which people in China are feeling the effects of heavy pollution. In Beijing, tourism companies sought to lure travelers with the promise of little more than visible sunsets.

And lest we be lulled into thinking that the heavy pollution is a problem unique to East Asia, last month officials in Paris rolled out activity warnings and traffic limits as that city dealt with its own clouds of potentially hazardous atmosphere. ®

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