Chinese Millionaire Fights Pollution with Fresh Air in a Can

With flavors like "pristine Tibet," who could resist?

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Barry Huang / Reuters

Chen Guangbiao, right, gives away cans of fresh air on Jan. 30, 2013, to signal that something must be done about China's pollution problem

A Chinese tycoon has taken it upon himself to fight China’s air-pollution problem with a tongue-in-cheek campaign: soda-pop-size cans of fresh air.

Chen Guangbiao, a Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist, has launched a line of fresh-air soft-drink cans that retail for about 80¢ and come in a variety of “flavors,” including, according to the Huffington Post, “pristine Tibet” and “post-industrial Taiwan.”

“I want to tell mayors, county chiefs and heads of big companies: don’t just chase GDP growth, don’t chase the biggest profits at the expense of our children and grandchildren and at the cost of sacrificing our ecological environment,” Chen told Reuters.

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Air pollution is measured in terms of PM 2.5, or particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter, which are absorbed by the lungs and can cause heart and lung disease, according to Reuters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air-quality index, which factors in PM 2.5 measurements, considers anything above 301 as hazardous.

According to a TIME story about Beijing’s record air pollution, the air quality in the country’s capital surpassed the American system for measuring pollution, which doesn’t extend above 500, hitting 866 for PM 2.5 in mid-January.

The 44-year-old entrepreneur, whose wealth is estimated at $740 million, made his fortune in the recycling business. According to the Guardian, he plans to give away his fortune before his death. The fresh-air cans Chen handed out on Wednesday had a caricature of the philanthropist on them and included the tagline “Chen Guangbiao is a good man.”

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