Tuesday, February 20, 2018

7 Critical Air Quality Tips for Travelers

(With spring and summer seemingly just around the corner, we thought this piece by Kate Thora to be very timely.)

When you’re getting ready to head to a new destination, one of the last things that many people think of is whether or not they will get sick from simply breathing. If you live in the industrialized world, you probably think that under-developed places don’t have the same issues with pollutants and poor air quality that you would find closer to home, but you would likely be mistaken. Most industrialized countries have been aware of the dangers of pollutants for decades and have enacted policies to combat them. 
On the other hand, many common travel destinations are significantly less likely to have put in place caps on pollution emissions, and you’ll often find that the air quality is significantly worse than you expected. In some large cities around the world, it can be truly dangerous to be outdoors somedays. If you’re headed someplace new, you should do a bit of research into the air quality issues at your destination before you depart and take steps to protect your health if necessary. Here are some tips for dealing with poor air quality while traveling.

Check it Out
Before you book your flight, find out what the air quality issues are where you’re planning to travel. Find out what pollutants are common, and what their effects are. Understand your ways to minimize your own risk in those places. Check with travel advisories from your state department or check out this WHO map of ambient air pollution to see if you are traveling to an area where air quality is a concern.
Understand Local Warning Systems
Is purple good? Or bad? What exactly does a high level of pollutants mean? Is it “don’t go jogging or engage in other strenuous activity” or is it “DON’T GO OUTSIDE IF YOU CAN HELP IT?” Familiarize yourself with the air quality warning systems of your destination so that you will know what to do in the event of poor air quality, and how it might affect you.
Plan Your Trip Well
If you’re planning a vacation, consider scheduling it during a part of the year when pollutants tend to be lower. Travelling during or just after the rainy season will generally result in less irritants in the air. If you plan to be there when it is hot and dry, the levels of particles suspended in the air tend to be higher, and therefore more of a problem.
Know Yourself
If you are someone with asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions, schedule an appointment with your doctor before you travel to make sure that you have all the necessary prescriptions for medications and inhalers that you use, and try to get an extra refill on everything so you have a back-up just in case. Having to seek and navigate through medical treatment in a foreign country when you are in distress is not a great way to spend a trip.
Protect Children
If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll need to be particularly careful about air quality. Children have faster metabolisms, breath more, and intake a larger amount of pollutants relative to their body weight. If you’re feeling a bit light-headed from the air quality, chances are children are faring worse. Remember to minimize their exposure as much as possible and use them as a gauge for continuing activity or calling it quits. 
Heed Warnings
This may be the trip of a lifetime for you, but you may have to skip some of the highlights. Poor air quality can have both immediate short-term and debilitating long-term affects on your health. Being disappointed that you missed out on an itinerary item is preferable to being hospitalized in a foreign country and missing your flight home.
Use Common Sense
If you get off the plane and the air hurts to breathe, do whatever you can to minimize the risk. If you notice yourself feeling poorly, spend the afternoon indoors. Always remember that you generally don’t feel the effects of poor air quality until after you’ve been exposed for a while. Even if you feel fine, you may be working off borrowed time.

About the author: Kate Thora is a blogger with an artistic soul who loves to write and dance in her free time. She is also a part of the content creation team working at Bizset, online business directory. Follow Kate on Twitter.

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