Despite the Clean Air Act and other steps to improve the air we breathe, air pollution continues to threaten the health and wellbeing of people throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.2 million deaths occur every year as a result of exposure to outdoor air pollution, and 91 percent of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits. It’s no surprise then that air quality has become a key concern for many. Recognizing the importance of clean air to overall wellness, spas and resorts are focused on introducing living walls, air purifiers, and salt rooms to help guests breathe a bit easier.
At Six Senses Spa at Six Senses rue de Castiglione (Paris), spa-goers are greeted by a stunning two-floor living wall designed by Patrick Blanc, botanist and creator of the Vertical Garden. The greenery not only lifts the senses but also purifies the air. “The Vertical Garden is an efficient way to clean up the air,” says Blanc. “In addition to leaves and their well-known air-improving effect, the roots and all the micro-organisms related to them are acting as a wide air-cleaning ecosystem. On the felt—the growing medium—polluting particles are taken in from the air and are slowly decomposed and mineralized before ending up as plant fertilizer.” According to Joanna Roche, executive director of the Green Spa Network, living walls are a great source of oxygen for indoor spaces.
Another option that is growing in popularity is building healthier from the get-go. “We spend nearly 90 percent of our time indoors, and we breathe primarily indoor air, yet levels of pollutants can be as much as two to five times higher indoors than outdoors,” says Peter Scialla, president and chief operating officer of Delos, a leader in wellness-oriented building and design. “It is of the utmost importance to remove allergens and contaminants from the air so that we can enhance, rather than compromise, our health and wellbeing.” According to Scialla, gas appliances, new furniture, fireplaces, pets, and even traffic can impact air quality. As a result, he considers air-quality monitoring an essential part of any responsive air purification system.
“Designed to help optimize indoor environmental conditions, the Darwin Wellness Intelligence platform uses advanced algorithms and machine learning methods to monitor and improve indoor air quality,” says Scialla. “Air quality sensors passively monitor air pollutant levels in real-time and automatically activate the air purification system to provide fresh air exactly when it’s needed.” A priority in nearly all of the company’s projects, clean air definitely played a role in the wellness-themed rooms at The Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Each featured an air purification system. Delos is also working on specific solutions for a global spa operator. “The product curated for this spa program provides two full air changes per hour in a space up to 700 square feet, providing improved air quality for guests,” says Scialla.
Of course, another way to incorporate fresh air is to take advantage of the great outdoors. Not surprisingly, outdoor treatment areas continue to flourish thanks to their breathtaking natural surroundings. If a seaside treatment isn’t possible, halotherapy, also known as salt therapy, provides another option. “Halotherapy is a form of dry salt therapy that has certain characteristics that impact the respiratory system, skin, and general wellness,” says Leo Tonkin, founder and chairman of the Salt Therapy Association. The popularity of salt rooms and the use of halogenerators, which crush salt and disperse it into the air, is yet another example of the industry’s growing focus on the air we breathe.
“We are seeing an ever-increasing number of people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, allergies, COPD, cystic fibrosis, bronchitis, lung cancer, and more,” says Tonkin. “While halotherapy provides relief for many of these conditions, it also provides respiratory hygiene for general and overall wellness. You change the air filter in your car and home to run properly, but what do you do to clean out your respiratory system."