The Cordis hotel in Shanghai gets a lot of customers, thanks to its air quality. The hotel has a double-filter for air. There are 396 rooms in the hotel which are equipped with a pollution monitor. Apparently, breathing clean air is the new cool in the super polluted big cities. It is also another way through which the rich can distinguish themselves from the poor, who are constantly inhaling the polluted air.
WHO quantified the effects of breathing polluted air in 2014. It causes almost 7 million premature deaths each year. It is responsible for an array of medical conditions which include lung cancer and heart attacks. Governments of many cities tried to suppress the issue but the pollution in Asia’s megacities is too serious to be ignored or suppressed. The Chinese government was forced to take action or to take the risk on the health of its population, especially children.
Putting a price on the clean air was not a part of their plan. However, the private sector was successful in seizing the opportunity to earn profit from the crisis. The expensive schools, which are attended by children of elite and rich people, and luxury hotels like Cordis, have made clean air a commodity. John O’Shea, managing director of the Cordis, said, “I think back to the days when everyone used to charge for the internet. Now the internet’s like hot water – if you don’t have high speed, fast, easy-access internet for free, then it’s over. The indoor air quality is going to be like that too – if you can’t guarantee your customers much better air quality than the competitors, it’s going to be a fait accompli. It’s already getting that kind of importance.”
In a lot of parts of the world, wealth is equal to the health. Prohibitive healthcare costs mean that if you are not wealthy, you cannot treat your cancer or diabetes. The division done by pollution might also become the new normal soon enough. Countries are continuing their efforts to clean up their air. However, it will take a lot of time to do so. Meanwhile, those who cannot afford to breathe in clean air will keep suffering from asthma, lung cancer, and heart conditions.