When jetting off on holiday, we often don't think about air quality but perhaps we should!
Why is checking air quality on holiday important? Travel insurer Avanti recently surveyed over 2,000 UK travellers to learn more about their holiday habits concerning air quality. In the survey, over half (58%) of people said they had previously experienced breathing difficulties. For many (34%), their breathing problems were made worse by air pollution and dust allergies. A third (33%) suffered from hay fever while 19% had asthma. And 17% reported experiencing breathing problems due to air pollution. This shows just how important it is to travel with air quality in mind.
So, how is air quality measured? Air quality is measured by looking at the amount of pollutants in the air. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) that show safe limits for major air pollutants, like PM2.5. This refers to tiny particles that can be harmful to our health.
The WHO regularly updates its Ambient Air Quality Database, which details the air quality in across 117 countries.
The AQG values have been developed after careful review of scientific evidence on the health impacts of air pollution. At the moment, the WHO recommends that countries should aim for an annual average PM2.5 score of 5 micrograms per cubic metre (5 µg/m3), which is a lot lower than many popular tourist hotspots.
What are the best European cities for air quality? Of the major European cities that they researched, Helsinki in Finland has the cleanest air (at 6µg/m3).
The Nordic regions generally rank highly for air quality. In their research, two Nordic countries– Norway and Finland – were in the top 10, perhaps no surprise given their focus on renewable energy and proactive environmental policies. They make a good choice for holidaymakers worried about air quality.
Krakow, Poland had the highest concentration of PM2.5 in Europe, at 22µg/m3, from the destinations we reviewed. Other popular destinations like Paris, Rome and Istanbul scored quite highly for air pollution too.
Avanti took a closer look at the air quality of their customer’s favourite holiday destinations. Portugal came out on top with the cleanest air among the top destinations visited by our travellers. India’s air quality was the worst of the bunch— over six times higher than Portugal’s. It’s one to watch if you suffer from breathing issues!
Top tips for travelling safelyWhether you want a city break, sunshine in the Mediterranean, or to travel to a far-flung destination, here are Avanti's top tips for planning around air pollution:
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