IT seems amazing these days in Britain to think of places suffering from smog.
We’ve given up much of our heavy industrial and manufacturing capability as well as developing cleaner fuels and with that the famed ‘pea-soupers’ of the past are a distant memory for us.
It’s not so for the good burghers of Chinese capital Beijing.
For the second time this month the air pollution gauge went off the chart with the concentration of airborne PM 2.5 particulates – the smallest and most deadly.
If that sounds bad then consider this. The gauge stops at a mark of 500 - which is 20 times the World Health Organisation standard.
But Chen Guangbiao has decided enough is enough.
The billionaire industrialist has come up with fresh air – in cans.
Mr Guangbiao sells his cans of air for five yuan (about 50p) each. It comes in atmospheric flavours including pristine Tibet, post-industrial Taiwan and revolutionary Yan’an, the Communist Party’s early base area.
But to be fair to the billionaire (not a phrase you often utter) it’s more of a stunt than a real business venture.
In recent weeks there’s been a sharp increase in the number of people admitted to hospital with respiratory illnesses and thousands of people have been buying up gas masks to try and avoid inhaling the fug.
The situation with smog has got so bad that satellites in space are often now unable to see parts of China due to the toxic blanket which lies atop many major cities and industrial areas.
Sometimes it’s good to remember you’re not so badly off. Spare a thought for commuters in Beijing next time your bus is late or you’re stuck in traffic. Their jams could land them in hospital.