Air pollution is a problem around the globe, so much so that the World Bank just issued a report on its economic impact. In many business travel destinations, the air is bad enough to make people feel sick. How can business travelers protect themselves when visiting smog-heavy cities? Environmental experts and physicians offer a few recommendations.
- Understand what’s out there. The World Air Quality Index provides smog reports for cities worldwide. In the U.S., the AirNow index offers air quality information by postal ZIP code.
- Reduce exposure. When smog levels are high, stay indoors as much as possible. Avoid physical exertion, especially outdoors. If you go out, avoid high-traffic areas, which will have a higher level of pollution. Consider wearing a filtering mask to reduce inhalation of pollutants.
- Pay attention to your body. Symptoms like coughing, pain when taking a deep breath, tightness in your chest or wheezing can be an indication that you are overexposed to bad air, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. People with asthma or other lung diseases or heart disease are particularly vulnerable when smog levels are high.
The good news: Medical experts say that people who do not suffer from heart or lung disease probably will recover quickly from the effects of air pollution once they leave smog-heavy areas.