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REPORT BACK


WORDS MOLLY DYSON


SOMETHING IN THE AIR


A


T FIRST GLANCE, you wouldn’t expect air quality to be part of a travel buyer’s remit. However, with many


global cities facing pollution crises, dangerous levels of toxic particles now fall under duty- of-care, and a recent BCD Travel report on air quality reveals half of the most-visited business travel destinations worldwide put travellers at risk. The study found that, at a regional level, only North America and the south-west Pacific can be considered relatively safe. All other regions have cities with pollution levels ranging from moderate (Europe) to hazardous (Asia) and extremely dangerous (Middle East). BCD Travel says it initiated


the report to warn travel managers about the risks of air pollution for their travellers, and to advise them to include the issue of air quality in their risk management programmes. World Health Organisation


(WHO) data shows only 10 per cent of the world’s population breathes “clean air”, meaning the chance that business travellers are being exposed to air pollution is very high. Among the top ten most- visited destinations – mostly located in North America and Europe – only three cities have what BCD Travel calls “clean air”: San Francisco, New York City and Philadelphia. Six have moderate levels of pollution, of which Berlin is the highest. The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs warns that short-term exposure to high air pollution levels can lead to irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, and could cause coughing, tightness


34 MAY/JUNE 2019


of the chest and shortness of breath. With travel managers increasingly focusing on traveller wellness and companies’ legal duty-of- care responsibilities, BCD Travel recommends that risk management programmes include air quality guidelines. To help staff, BCD proposes


that travel managers share information about air pollution at their destinations and the potential health consequences. They can also provide tools to protect themselves, such as masks and air quality monitors. Managers can also ask employees if they want to


DATA ONLY


of the world’s population breathes “clean air”


WORLDWIDE


pollution-related illnesses cost


T RILLION in 2016


$6


Risk management programmes should now include air quality guidelines, urges BCD Travel


consider shortening or even cancelling trips to destinations where hazards and risks to health are high, or offer virtual meeting alternatives However, the WHO says a growing number of cities are now recording air pollution levels, reflecting a growing commitment to assessing, monitoring and addressing the problem. For example, last month London introduced the world’s first ultra-low emissions zone – or “ULEZ” – to help improve air quality. Drivers of older, more polluting vehicles are to be charged to enter the congestion zone 24 hours a day,


seven days a week within the same area of central London as the Congestion Charge. It is estimated toxic emissions from road transport will be reduced by 45 per cent in two years. n Download the report at bcdtravel.com/inform


AIR POLLUTION IN DUBAI IS


10% 510%


higher than the level scientists consider safe


SHANGHAI’S


HAZARDOUS LEVEL OF AIR POLLUTION


POSES SEVERE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES


shortness of breath irritation of


the eyes, nose and throat


buyingbusinesstravel.com


HIGH AIR POLLUTION LEVELS LEADS TO:


coughing chest tightness


EXPOSURE TO


SOURCE: WHO


SOURCE: WORLD BANK


SOURCE: BREATHELIFE


SOURCE: DEFRA


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