Selling oxygen to those in need of fresh air to breathe: what was originally a recurring gag in the 1987 sci-fi “Spaceballs” is now a reality in the form of oxygen bars popping up amidst India’s air quality crisis.
Bars like Oxy Pure in New Delhi offer customers 15 minutes of pure oxygen — scented if they like — through hospital-like breathing apparatuses, according to The New York Times. And while the bars themselves are capitalizing on the public’s need for air, the fact that there’s a market for them at all is a troubling sign for the people who are stuck between dangerous conditions and economic exploitation.
India’s government declared a state of emergency over its unhealthy air earlier this month. In New Delhi, a combination of pollution, debris from construction, and other fumes have the air so dangerous that it’s been linked to brain damage in children, per the NYT.
Oxy Pure owner Aryavir Kumar pointed out to the NYT that people have gotten used to purchasing bottled water — so why not air too?
Unfortunately, with the Indian government acting slowly, if at all, on dangerous levels of air pollution, privatized solutions like oxygen bars may be people’s only respite for the foreseeable future.
READ MORE: India, Choking on Toxic Air, Tries Something New: An Oxygen Bar [The New York Times]
More on bottled air: Self Filling Water Bottles Have Arrived, but Just How Viable Are They?