Chi Residences, a luxury apartment complex in Hong Kong, has added a new feature to its US$7,300-a-month, two-bedroom apartments: a wall-mounted air purifier system. Their marketing slogan: “Stay with us and breathe cleaner air.” It may not be a very catchy advertising line, but it’s a sound idea for city dwellers in urban centers with elevated pollution levels. The owners of the complex put the whole-apartment air purifier systems in each of the 121 apartments at the site. Air pollution in Hong Kong is bad enough that the conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra recently announced plans to leave his position and relocate to an area where his asthmatic son can breathe cleaner air.
Apartments with built-in air purifiers may be catching on in Hong Kong, but not yet in Fresno, Calif., where monthly rent on the average two-bedroom apartment is just over $700. Fresno is the second dirtiest city in the U.S. for ozone pollution and fourth dirtiest for short-term particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report. And a recent study conducted by a number of health institutes and California State University, Fresno, clearly documented that emergency-room visits in Fresno are strongly linked to increases in fine particle pollution, especially for children. The rate of hospital admissions for asthma among adults and children also increases dramatically as fine particle pollution increases, the study found.
Meanwhile, air pollution overall in Fresno is improving slightly, while conditions in Hong Kong are getting worse. A study conducted in 2006 by The University of Hong Kong established a tie between air pollution and asthma hospital admissions among children. Air quality has worsened since then. In Fresno, conditions are slowly improving but the San Joaquin Valley, including both Bakersfield and Fresno, is still “arguably the most polluted air basin in the United States,” the study noted.
Incidentally, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Hong Kong is US$2,830. International travelers who cannot afford the hefty monthly cost of an air-purifier-equipped apartment will come out far ahead by purchasing less expensive housing and purchasing a high-performance air purifier such as the IQAir HealthPro Plus, which costs less than $1,000 and will clean the air better than the whole-apartment air purifiers offered at Chi Residences. In fact, IQAir’s HealthPro Plus was chosen in 2003 by the Hong Kong Hospital Authority as the air purifier of choice to help fight the spread of SARS.