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      Air pollution

      Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski

      Air pollution occurs when too many harmful substances such as fine dust, nitrogen dioxide, benzene or ozone (smog) are present in the air. Air pollution can cause or aggravate respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
      Especially the small fraction of particulate matter (PM2.5) is very harmful. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises to aim for a value of maximum 10 μg/m3 particulate matter (PM2.5).
      Air pollution can vary from day to day, depending on weather conditions and traffic. Indoors the air can also be of poor quality, for example due to cooking, cigarette smoke, fireplaces, detergents, heating with kerosene or coal, incense or candles.    

      The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a good measure of air quality and is calculated on the basis of various important pollutants:

      • An AQI of 0 - 50 is good.
      • An AQI of 100 - 150 can cause health problems for sensitive people.
      • An AQI of 150 - 200 can also cause complaints in healthy persons.
      • An AQI > 200 is very unhealthy for everyone.

      The risk of short exposure to polluted air is limited for healthy travellers. For people with a heart or lung disease, children and older people, even a short exposure can cause health problems.

      Risk areas

      Especially in industrial cities in Africa and Asia the air quality standard is often not met. Check what the current AQI value is at your destination.


      Inform yourself before departure

      • Find out before departure what the air quality at your destination is.
      • If necessary, postpone a trip to a season in which the air quality is better, especially if you have a heart or lung disease.
      • If necessary, download the AirVisual app so that you can easily monitor the air quality and adjust your behaviour if necessary.
      • It is unclear whether the use of a mouth mask sufficiently protects against air pollution. If you use a mouth mask, make sure it fits properly.

      High AQI

      • Better stay in high AQI.
      • Certainly don't make a heavy effort or exercise because you can breathe in up to ten times more fine dust.

      Indoor air quality

      • Avoid rooms with fires or kerosene heating.
      • Make sure there is no smoking in the room where you are staying.
      • Do not burn incense or candles.
      • Ventilate regularly if possible at times when the outside air is not too bad.
      • For longer stays, use an air purifier in your bedroom if necessary.
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