There is no good reason to buy bottled air from Canada
Yes, this seems like a hoax. But it's totally real.
According to the National Post, Vitality Air sold out of its first shipment of 500 bottles to China - a country that has been choking on smog - within weeks. It is currently shipping another 4,000 units to sell overseas.
The company sells cans of both fresh air and pure oxygen. One 7.7-Liter bottle of air from Lake Louise retails for $32 Canadian dollars. It provides "approximately 150 breaths" of this fresh air, according to their website. They collect this "fresh air" from Banff National Park in Alberta and compress it into cans. They then outfit the can with a mask for easy inhalation.
To be clear: This company is selling air. Totally free, totally easy-to-find air. And people are buying it.
There must be something magical about this air, right? Turns out, nope.
"We've had one customer tell us that after she breathed the fresh air she felt her baby kicking," Moses Lam, founder of Vitality Air, told the National Post.
But clicking the link called, "What is the benefit of your products," notably leads to nothing.
We reached out to Shawn Aaron, director of the Canadian Respiratory Research Network, to see if we were missing something here. And it turns out that our suspicions are correct.
When asked if breathing in bottles of oxygen or Canadian air have any health benefits, Aaron said that he did not know of any.
"As far as I know this has never been studied," Aaron told Tech Insider via email. "We do know that breathing in pollution is bad for you ... however we don't know that these 7-Liter bottles of pollution-free air have any good health effects, beyond placebo effects."
But will it do any harm? Probably not, Aaron said, assuming there aren't any contaminants in the bottle.Ironically, manufacturing and transporting those bottles of air will only add to global pollution, though this company's impact is likely too small to make a meaningful difference. (We see no mention of a carbon offset program and did not hear back from the company when we inquired.)
The smog pollution in China is serious - nearly 4,000 people die from it each day. But all in all, the biggest harm in shipping air around the globe will be to the consumer's pocketbook. Because seriously, only suckers shell out boatloads of cash for air.
And taking advantage of this by asking people to pay for something they should be getting for free - clean air - is inexcusable.