Chinese Smog and Canned Air

A few years ago, an air quality monitor in Beijing showed a reading of 500 – the worst air quality reading so far… so they thought. Last week, the air quality read 755, labeled “Beyond Index” by the Beijing Air Twitter feed. Here is a photo of the smog:

Beijing Smog

This website shows the air purification scale as such:

Good: 0-50
Moderate: 51-100
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups: 101-150
Unhealthy: 151-200
Very Unhealthy: 201-300
Hazardous: 301-500

But why is the smog overloading the streets, causing people to wear masks and run air purifiers 24/7? The New York Times reports that there are 20 million factories and a multitude of new cars on the roads. Also, the city of Beijing is on a plain surrounded by hills, trapping smog for days with little wind.

What is China going to do about this dilemma? A few architects in Chicago created a concept sky scraper that collects the CO2 from the air, which feeds algae in the building. The algae is then converted to bio-fuels  The crooked structure (when placed over a highway/busy road) cuts down on traffic noise. However, this was just done as a design project, and the skyscrapers are not in the plan, but it would be cool if these became a reality someday.

Skyscraper concept

Interestingly enough, a Chinese billionaire picked up an idea from an entrepreneur and is now selling canned air, complete with different “flavors” of air from different parts of China. Yes, you read that right – different smelling canned air. It sounds ridiculous, but we have to remember that once upon a time, it was a ridiculous idea to sell bottled water. This idea of buying air also came about in the Lorax movie which came out last year. In the movie, the mayor was selling bottled air because of the pollution that came from their factories, much like China.

This should serve as a reminder to everyone that pollution is increasing and there are public heath issues along with it. I’m not saying to stop driving your car, but if you have the option, go hybrid for your next one.

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