Ammonium Nitrate Chemistry

Naturally Sparkling Air in a Can

As Spaceballs foreshadowed, people are now buying air-in-a-can in a misguided attempt to deal with air pollution.  Oh shit, there goes the planet.

The Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar is in the midst of what UNICEF have termed a health crisis, with air pollution so bad that every child and pregnancy is at risk. The air pollution crisis in Ulaanbataar is the result of a booming population coupled with bitter winters and dirty coal and wood fired heating, leading to incredibly high levels of PM10 and PM2.5 particulate matter.  This has sent locals searching for remedies, including the attractive but ultimately useless canned oxygen.

Instead of getting your air from a can, there are effective strategies to deal with dangerously polluted air.  During an acute air pollution event the best thing to do is avoid it, by staying indoors and limiting activity.  Indoor air filters can help, whereas open fire places will make things worse.  If you need to go outside then a flimsy paper mask won't offer much protection, with a quality respirator required to provide any real mitigation.  Unfortunately, most of these measures are not available to the underprivileged masses of Ulaanbaatar, who rely on solid fuel heating and can't afford to own or operate expensive air purifiers.  The real solution, of course, is to reduce air pollution, but significant investment in clean heating and insulation will be required to make that a reality.