How to Handle Air Pollution Around the Globe
Beijing isn't the only city with crippling smog
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Remember this controversy? In 2008, four American track cyclists hopped off their plane at Beijing wearing masks over their mouths and noses. They caught some flack for it — China was embarrassed, and the US Olympic Committee regretted the scene it caused — but it’s tough now to blame them. The air quality in Beijing was terrible then, even as the government scrambled to halt construction projects and get cars off the road ahead of the games, and it’s terrible over a decade later, too.
But Beijing isn’t the only city in the world with air pollution issues. Cities all across Asia, and even in Europe and North America, are currently struggling with damaging air quality, which can lead to respiratory infections, lung damage, weakened immune systems and fatigue. So before you plan your next trip, make sure to take the following precautions:
- Always research local air quality
You can check the air quality of any catalogued city in the world via the Real-Time Air Quality Index. Regions are graded on a 0-300+ scale, where 0-50 is considered Good and 300+ is considered Hazardous. Keep in mind numbers will vary based on season (the scale is not favorable to hot/humid periods of the year), but for the most part you can get a solid read on where the air’s clear. A couple examples: Colorado Springs scored a “1” and Delhi scored a “189.”
- Take care of your face and skin
Yeah, it looks goofy, but make sure you have a high-quality facemask handy, like the 3M Respirator, which will block at least 95% of particles in the air. You’ll want to strongly consider wearing one if the local AQI is over 150. It’s also massively important that protect your skin by showering when turning in at the end of day, and using sunscreen each morning.
- Don’t push it on the outside time
No need to be a hero. Visit a museum. See a show. Don’t go for a run, and definitely don’t try to exercise in a heavily-trafficked area.
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