Air Clean Up

  • What Is an Oxygen Cocktail?

What Is an Oxygen Cocktail?

May 16 2018 Read 943 Times

There’s a new craze gripping the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar – the oxygen cocktail. But unlike a Piña Colada or an Espresso Martini, this is one drink that the locals consume for its apparent health benefits rather than its inebriating effects.

That’s because Ulaanbaatar recently claimed the dubious crown of most polluted capital city in the world. As a result, Mongolians are turning to cans of pressurised oxygen to squirt into their juices, waters and other drinks in a bid to fend off the harmful effects of the damaging airways.

A grave problem

A recent report from UNICEF concluded that Ulaanbaatar was the most contaminated capital city on the planet in 2016, beating Beijing and New Delhi into second and third place, respectively. The geographical location of the city is one contributing factor; with mountains on either side, there is no place for smog to disperse so it simply hangs over the metropolis like an unwanted blanket. Another reason is the coal stoves used by those living in slums to heat their homes and cook their food.

All in all, this amounts to a seriously polluted atmosphere. Earlier this year on January 30th, pollution peaked at 133 times the “safe” threshold as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This has impacted the population in a big way, with reported instances of respiratory infections tripling and pneumonia the second biggest killer of children under five years old. The very young and the pregnant are thought to be most at risk.

Canned oxygen a hot commodity

Public consciousness over the issue has increased hand-in-hand with the growing market for continuous emissions monitoring systems in developing countries and many homeowners in the country own air purifiers, as well.

Now, the canned oxygen industry is cashing in on this consumer fear by advertising pressurised cans of O2 which claim to offer the same benefits as “a three-hour walk in a lush forest”. The cans retail on average for around £1.45 in a supermarket and oxygen cocktail machines – similar in appearance to espresso machines – have begun popping up in stores and chemists around the city. These charge 73p to inject oxygen directly into any drink of the user’s choosing.

Lung-cleansing teas are also on the increase, with sales surging by almost a third over the winter season when the smog is at its most prevalent. The manufacturers claim that the tea removes toxins from the blood and converts them into mucus, which can be expelled from the body’s system.

Prevention better than the cure

For their part, the WHO has downplayed the effectiveness of such products. “The business community will offer plenty of those solutions,” stated Maria Neira, who serves as the chief of the public health department for the WHO. “We don't have any scientific evidence whether they provide any benefit.”

Instead, the health body have stressed the importance of improving air quality and reducing transport-related pollution as a long-term solution to the problem. Between 2008 and 2016, the Mongolian authorities spent £87.2 million on alleviating the air quality crisis, though critics and disgruntled citizens of Ulaanbaatar have claimed they have not done anywhere near enough.

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