The Rich Breathe Better Air Than Most—Literally

Souped up filtration is becoming the norm for those who can afford it, reports 'New Republic'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2024 2:15 PM CDT
The New Luxury Perk in Fancy Homes: Clean Air
   (Getty / Kira-Yan)

It's a general truth that air pollution from factories and highways affects the poor more than the rich because of where people are able to live. But wildfire smoke? You might think, as one journalist put it, that it's more "egalitarian" because it affects everyone. Not so much, writes Shayla Love in the New Republic. The story explains that the uber-rich are increasingly breathing cleaner air than the rest of us through incredibly advanced—and expensive—filtration systems in their homes. Typically, these are new homes or apartment buildings, as opposed to the circulation-challenged buildings that have gone up in decades past. And you can expect this burgeoning "luxury air market" only to grow as wildfires become more commonplace in cities large and small around the world. (Just ask anyone in New York City last summer.)

"As the fervor for ventilation that began during the pandemic meets the need to blockade against smoke, some wealthy people will do anything, and pay any amount, to guarantee they will always have a breath of fresh air," writes Love, who notes that the perk is increasingly popping up in luxury real estate listings. In one Manhattan apartment building Love visits, the windows with "museum-quality glass" are typically opened only for cleaning because the air outside is dirtier than the air circulating inside. (Anecdotal proof is in the long-lasting hydrangeas in vases.) Such apartments cost millions—plural—to buy, but one developer expects the perks to "trickle down" to the more modest $1 million buyer. "After that, it basically becomes like a seat belt," he tells Love. "How long will that trickle take to get to the bottom? I don't know. It depends on other people." Read the full story, which has details on the sophisticated systems. (Or read other longform recaps.)

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