Bags Of Mountain Air Soothe Smog-Addled Chinese City Dwellers

Citizens of notoriously smoggy Zhengzhou could breathe a little easier – for a few minutes, at least – thanks to a local travel company's promotional gimmick. Staffers brought 20 big blue bags of fresh air collected 120 miles (300 km) away at Laojun Mountain to the east-central Chinese city and distributed it  to grateful mask-wearing residents.

According to Xu Lei, manager of the Laojun Mountain scenic area, the main point of the exercise was to raise public awareness of environmental protection. Xu ain't foolin' no one, however, since those allotted a few precious minutes of unpolluted air were reminded exactly where that air was sourced.

“I would love to walk in the mountain's forests after my child is born,” exclaimed a woman surnamed Sun, who told a China News Service reporter she was eight months pregnant. “I felt my baby move right when I breathed in,” added Sun, no doubt to the great delight of the aforementioned Xu Lei.

Air pollution is a big deal in Zhengzhou, and a recent announcement from China's environmental ministry that placed the capitol of heavily-industrialized Henan province among China's ten most-polluted cities certainly came as no surprise to long-suffering (not to mention coughing and wheezing) residents.

Just how bad is Zhengzhou's air? Look at it this way: today's forecast AQI (Air Quality Index) for Bakersfield, CA – reputed to be the smoggiest city in the United States – was 45. By comparison, Zhengzhou's AQI was off the dials at a breathtaking (sorry) 158! It's enough to make citizens long for the pure, clear, fresh air of a mountain forest... and somewhere, Xu Lei smiles and nods knowingly. (via WSJ, Global Times, and Shanghaiist)