Skip to main content

Chinese residents line up for bags of fresh mountain air

By Frances Cha and Hiufu Wong, CNN
updated 2:02 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Zhengzhou residents lined up to try bags of mountain air
  • Zhengzhou is one of the most polluted cities in China
  • Event was a tourism publicity stunt for nearby Laojun Mountain in the same province

(CNN) -- Whatever the motive behind the event, it made for some powerful images of some China residents' desperation for better air.

Making the media rounds this week are photographs of residents of Zhengzhou, the capital of China's Henan Province, lining up for a chance to breathe fresh mountain air via sealed bags.

Some of the more heart-tugging photos were of parents and grandparents fixing the masks on children's faces so they can have a few rare sniffs of the fresh O2.

Zhengzhou is one of China's worst cities for air pollution, ranking 10th in a Greenpeace list of the country's most polluted cities in 2013, which used official data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

At the time of writing, Zhengzhou's AQI (Air Quality Index) recorded an "unhealthy" 157. Even Beijing, often the subject of bad pollution headlines, recorded a "moderate" AQI of 55 (the capital made headlines with its off-the-chart AQI reading of 755 last January).

Zhengzhou is one of the worst cities in China for air pollution.
Zhengzhou is one of the worst cities in China for air pollution.

New York recorded an AQI of 62.

READ: Beijing pollution: Does it put you off traveling there?

The late-March series of events were part clever travel marketing gimmick, part public awareness campaign for China's air pollution crisis, put on by Laojun Mountain Natural Reserve Development Co.

The company brought in 2,000 cans and 40 bags of air that had been packed in Laojun Mountain, also located in Henan Province.

"A TV crew came to Laojun Mountain to test the air and found it unbelievably good and we had the idea of doing this to promote tourism to the area," sales and marketing officer for the park Khurram Zhang told CNN.

Known for its fresh air, the mountain was designated a national nature reserve in 1997, and sits 120 kilometers away from the nearest city of Luoyang.

"We collected 2,000 cans of air from She Shen Ya (a cliff on Laojun Mountain) early last month and we gave them out in multiple locations as a marketing campaign. It was gone in 20 minutes," said Zhang.

"We've launched two more events giving away air from the mountain. There will be more free fresh air coming in the future."

MORE: 40 most beautiful places in China

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:42 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
From Maastricht to Melbourne, these itineraries make bookish travelers look stylish.
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
Good cocktails combine with spectacular views across rivers, cityscapes and oceans at these bird-level drinkeries.
updated 2:09 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
updated 10:26 PM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Cinema loves portraying the lives of expats. Sometimes it gets it right. Sometimes it casts Nick Nolte as a jungle king.
updated 9:17 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Don't be intimidated, says a local expert. Here's how to do China without the hassles
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
When your city has an unenviable reputation for insulting tourists and fleecing them for every cent, inviting hotel guests to pay what they want could be a risky move.
updated 3:10 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
1937 Auto Union V16 Streamliner, Audi Museum, Germany
With factory tours and collections of stunning vintage prototypes, southern Germany is petrolhead paradise.
updated 9:44 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Every tourist destination has a flip side, a season when prices go down and savvy, flexible travelers can score big savings.
updated 3:11 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
A Marrakech lamp bazaar
Morocco's Red City is crammed with stunning gardens, shaded souks and steamy bath houses.
updated 12:52 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Santo Stefano Island, Italy
Pristine beaches, unspoiled nature and few tourists -- a stretch on these former penal colonies is no longer a punishment.
updated 5:23 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Life in Joburg can be stressful. Luckily there are some exceedingly non-stressful places close by.
updated 5:07 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Istanbul skyline
CNN's Ivan Watson pays homage to the city he's called home for the past 12 years.
China notches up another superlative achievement as a Nanjing-based artist creates the world's largest and longest anamorphic painting.
updated 4:02 PM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
In what is undoubtedly the world's "coolest" surf video, photographer Chris Burkhard endures freezing temperatures, blizzards and injury to capture Arctic waves and their riders.
updated 11:39 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Few airline routes are as cutthroat as the one that travels between London and New York. It is the world's busiest route and there are few lengths airlines won't go to in the hopes of getting a piece of the action.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT