In this TV screen grab from BBC, Beijing resident Li Tianqin tries to get her son refreshed with a canister of Vitality Air's fresh air. CHINA DAILY
A company selling bottled air collected from a primitive forest in northern China has reported a spike in sales following a deterioration in the country's air quality.
Beijing and parts of eastern China have experienced three periods of "hazardous" air quality since the start of autumn, and meteorological departments have warned there will be more to come before the spring due to the use of coal-burning heating systems as temperatures drop.
Global Outlook Biotech said sales of its Senlin Baobei canisters, which contain air collected from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, are on the rise.
"The cans contain air from the primitive forests of the Greater Khingan Mountains," said Chen Zhiquan, the company's managing director. "We sold fewer than 100 bottles in August and about 400 in September. But we sold more than 1,000 in the first 20 days of October, and have been selling more than 100 per day since then thanks to the recent smog."
Most purchases have been made online by people in Beijing and cities in Shandong province, Chen said, adding that the canisters, which are priced at 58 yuan ($8.50) and come with a breathing mask, are designed to provide 30 minutes of "natural fresh air".
Feedback from customers has been mixed. A man who tried the product at a fair in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, described inhaling the contents of the canister as "fresh and comfortable", while others said they had no reaction.
Ma Rutao, a college student in Beijing, said, "I'd rather spend more money on an air purifier than a temporary fix."
However, Chen said that the product is largely aimed at raising public awareness about environmental protection. "I don't appreciate the fact that fresh air is becoming a treasure," he added.