Alarming levels of air pollution for business travelers

Half of the most visited business travel destinations worldwide have dangerous levels of air pollution. Companies should include air quality assessments in travel risk management programs.

BCD Travel has published a new Inform report on air quality to warn travel managers about the risks of air pollution for their business travelers.

Why the new Air Quality report is relevant for you

With only 10% of the world’s population breathing clean air, the chance of a business traveler being exposed to air pollution is very high. Find out if your travelers are at risk and what you can do to protect them.

Martin Weisskirchen

“We feel strongly about supporting our clients in fulfilling duty of care for their travelers,” said Martin Weisskirchen, vice president of Global Crisis Management at BCD Travel.  “A good traveler security program is not only about addressing crisis situations like a terrorist attack, hurricane or earthquake, it’s also about day-to-day risks like a car accident or exposure to air pollution.”

“Employers who take action to mitigate the risks of air pollution send an important signal to their employees that they care about their wellbeing,” Weisskirchen said. We created this report to make it easy for travel managers to get informed about air pollution, find out if their travelers are at risk and plan how to act on it.”

Key takeaways from the Air Quality report

  • Many of the world’s business capitals, frequently visited by business travelers, exceed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safe levels for air pollution, in some cases by more than five times.
  • Short-term exposure to high air pollution levels can cause immediate symptoms like irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.
  • Weather conditions have a clear impact on pollution levels at these destinations, so it’s feasible to make recommendations on when to travel or not. For example, winter causes hazardous air pollution levels in some big Asian cities, so limit travel during that season as much as possible.

Duty of care tips for travel managers

  • When business travelers are traveling to a destination with poor air quality, travel managers should advise them to:
    • Consider shortening their trip or using virtual meeting alternatives.
    • Frequently monitor the local Air Quality Index to assess the situation in real time.
    • Limit outdoor activity and, if necessary, wear a properly fitting mask.
  • To protect their travelers, travel managers can:
    • Share information and supply tools for protection against air pollution.
    • Make sure travelers are familiar with the company’s travel policy on health and emergencies.
    • Send notifications and tips before, during and after the trip.
    • Gather data on how long business travelers are exposed to air pollution, and make recommendations to limit their exposure.

About the Air Quality report

BCD’s report on air quality matches WHO data about air quality with the travel management company’s own 2018 flight booking data to map air quality in the 100 most popular business travel destinations worldwide.

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