When Your Car Has that New-Car Smell, It's Luxurious. When Your House Does, It Can Kill You.
In the course of his research on the New Orleans trailer park culture that developed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Oxford anthropologist Nick Shapiro stumbled on something unexpected. At 250 square feet, the FEMA-issued mobile homes were scarcely fit to live in, but there was one thing about them that, for their occupants, represented the height of luxury: a scent evocative of the interior of a new car. This smell was also making them sick.