Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bottled Air

Zachary Crockett reports in the Hustle,
On a hazy morning in mid-October, Xiu Wang walks briskly through the streets of Beijing’s Dongcheng District. She carries the requisite luggage of her daily commute: A small backpack, headphones, and a can of fresh Canadian air.

Every 10 to 15 minutes she pauses, pulls her face mask to the side, and inhales a short burst from the can — enough to offer temporary respite from the city’s smog.

On certain days in northern China, the air is so thick with pollutants that Xiu can’t see her own hand in front of her face. Skyscrapers are obscured and flights are cancelled. Environmentalists have dubbed it the “airpocalypse.”

And in the midst of this crisis, a dystopian industry has emerged: Entrepreneurs from less-polluted countries are turning clean air into a commodity.

In 2014, Moses Lam and Troy Paquette — both Canadian mortgage specialists in their late 20s — were looking for a career change.

“We were kind of just sitting around thinking about things, and saw a bottle of water,” Lam recalls. “I thought, ‘What if we do the same thing, except with air?’”
Read more here.

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