BCD Travel has conducted a study that reveals half of the most-visited business travel destinations worldwide have ‘dangerous’ levels of air pollution, putting travellers at risk.

The latest in the TMC’s ‘Inform’ series of reports, the study found that at a regional level, only North America and the Southwest Pacific can be considered relatively safe. All other areas 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.

The TMC says the report matches World Health Organisation (WHO) data with its own, mapping the 100 most popular business travel destinations. The research 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.

Shanghai, the only Asian city in the top ten, has such a hazardous level of air pollution it could pose severe health consequences, according to BCD Travel.

The UK 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, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

According to the European Union, health issues related to exposure to pollution costs €62 billion a year. Worldwide, the World Bank says pollution-related illnesses cost nearly US$6 trillion in 2016 – 4.4 per cent of the global GDP – and caused 9 million premature deaths in the same year – 16 per cent of all fatalities.

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.

The latest Inform report shares an overview of the air quality in 100 business travel destinations and an in-depth look at pollution levels by region, as well as tips and tricks for travel managers and employees to mitigate the risks.

Martin Weisskirchen, VP of technology project and global crisis management at BCD Travel, commented: “We feel strongly about supporting our clients in executing duty of care to their travellers. A good traveller security programme 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. We created this report to make it easy for travel managers to get informed about air pollution, find out if travellers are at risk and plan how to act on it.”

Download a full copy of the report here


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