Start-up targets ‘breathable air market’ with Swiss air in a can

Can fresh Swiss mountain air be a tonic for people who live in polluted cities?

Start-up targets 'breathable air market' with Swiss air in a can
One Swiss start-up thinks so. Launched last week, Swiss Alpine Air is bottling fresh air from Switzerland with a view to selling it to residents of heavily polluted cities elsewhere in the world, for example in China and India. 
Collected from various locations around the Swiss Alps, the air is compressed into an aerosol can and comes with an attached face mask to assist with breathing, the company said in a press release.
A seven-litre can of air will set you back 19.95 francs and contains enough air for 120 breaths – around ten minutes’ use. 
As well as residents of polluted cities, the company is targeting commuters in Europe and tourists to Switzerland.
Contacted by The Local, the company’s CEO Danny Wurr acknowledged that people in Switzerland may feel “bewildered” by the concept of bottled air “as they can already breathe nice clean fresh air just by opening the door”.
But the canned air is not aimed at the Swiss, he said. “This product is for a population who live with terrible pollution every day, a pollution that may shorten their lives and cause debilitating health problems. One can of Swiss air is not the answer to their problems but it is so nice to be able to breathe clean fresh air even for a little while.
“The Chinese are fully aware of the benefits, they have to live with pollution every day and show great interest in returning to a polluted homeland with cans of clean fresh Swiss alpine air.”
Switzerland's clean, fresh air is “of course one of the main reasons why they come to Switzerland on holiday”.
Wurr said he expected his new company to become “a major world player in the new breathable air market”. 
“China is already buying air from Canada and Australia, we feel Swiss alpine air is better still.
“I remember when they first put water in a bottle and put it on sale. How people laughed. Just look at the bottled water industry today. Air is already following the same patterns and the future is very bright indeed.”
He confirmed the company had just completed its first batch of orders. “Although initial numbers are small we are pleased with the start,” he said.
Wurr isn’t the first person in Switzerland to capitalize on the fresh air of the Swiss mountains. 
Earlier this year British expat John Green launched an online business selling jars of Swiss air.


Italy resort lifts alert on melting glacier threat

An Italian Alpine resort on Sunday lifted a state of alert declared last week over fears that a chunk of glacier on the Mont Blanc mountain range might crash down on them.

Italy resort lifts alert on melting glacier threat
The Planpincieux glacier of the Grandes Jorasses, on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif, with the Courmayeur village in the background: Andrea BERNARDI / AFP

Around 15 people who were evacuated can now return to their homes in Courmayeur and traffic in the Cap Ferret valley is permitted again, said a statement from town officials.

Climate change has been increasingly melting the world's glaciers, creating a new danger for the town of Courmayeur, a resort community in Italy's Aosta Valley region, near the French border.

The town was put on high alert on Wednesday as a block of ice estimated at about 500,000 cubic metres — the size of the Milan cathedral, one official said — from the Planpincieux glacier risked falling and threatening homes.

An Italian 'Protezione Civile' (Civil Protection), rescue and search vehicle for aid waiting at the local police checkpoint in the village of La Palud, on August 7, 2020, where several dozen people were evacuated, as a huge chunk of a glacier in the Mont Blanc massif threatened to break off due to high temperatures. Photo: Andrea BERNARDI / AFP

But on Sunday, town officials announced that all security measures had been lifted.

Some locals were dismissive of the closure, and said it further hit a tourism season already affected by the coronavirus measures.

But the mayor's office said again on Sunday: “The evacuation was necessary and inevitable because of the glacier risk.”

While regretting what it said was the alarmist tone of some news coverage, officials insisted that the threat to the town had been real.

During a recent helicopter flypast, an AFP reporter saw a gaping chasm on the lower part of the Planpincieux, from which two cascades of water flowed towards the valley, as it hung from the mountainside like a gigantic block of grey polystyrene.

In September and October last year, the Planpincieux glacier also threatened a partial collapse, after which extra surveillance measures were put in place.

A study last year by Swiss scientists found that Alpine glaciers could shrink between 65 and 90 percent this century, depending on how effectively the world can curb greenhouse gas emissions.