Oxygen bars may cause health risks

Stressed out after hectic work and want to relax? Spare your regular booze bar this time and hit an oxygen bar for an oxygen shoot to regenerate your worn out cells. But at your own risk because there may be health risks.

Outlets providing "fresh oxygen' form a global industry, with the latest market being France. The first oxygen bar at Paris' posh beauty salon, Bleu Comme Bleu, offers oxygen shoots which, claims its manufacturer Jean-Guillaume Laurent, can quickly eliminate stress and fatigue. The bar provides oxygen filtered through a mixture of essential oils smelling mandarin oranges, pine tree and grapefruit.

Tour de France's O2 linkLaurent has been in the oxygen business since 2002. He got the idea while following Tour de France, world's largest cycling event, as a medical expert in 2001. He once saw weary cyclists recuperate by breathing in air with high oxygen which "re-oxygenized' their muscles faster.The athletes appeared the next day on the starting line "fresh as babies' says Laurent. "Their bodies had more cells to burn; hence more energy.'

His observation soon found place on his website and elicited immediate response from the retail giant Carrefour that wanted to launch a range of oxygenated products through oxygen bars in its shops in France. The equipment were available only in the us but getting them was a tough task post 9/11 since the customs process meant the products could not reach the shops in time for the launch. So they gave up.

Laurent, however, set out to make his own bar. He bought an oxygen concentrator that filters air to produce a "95 per cent oxygen concentrate'. He got the oxygen to filter through a mix of aromatic oils