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December 4, 2017
Assist Alert: Limit the Impact of
Air Pollution When Traveling

Air pollution is a major public health issue connected to an increase in chronic diseases, hospitalizations, and premature mortality. The World Health Organization estimates that 3 million deaths per year can be linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Ninety-four percent of these deaths are due to noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, strokes, chronic pulmonary diseases and cancers.

In the News

New Delhi, India’s capital city, has been under scrutiny for the last few weeks for a record high smog. At its peak, the smog was so critical that United Airlines suspended its direct flights from Newark to Delhi for a couple of days. Travel agencies are also reporting cancellations of trips for the holiday season.

As of today, the air quality index (AQI) is at 306 – far below the 624-peak reported on November 8 but still much higher than the upper limit of “good” quality air set at 50. Experts estimate that a day spent outdoors in New Delhi is like smoking about 50 cigarettes per day. Since the beginning of this air quality crisis, hospitals have reported a 20% surge in patients admitted for pollution-related illness.

New Delhi is not the only city to experience severe pollution. Lagos in Nigeria, Beijing, China, Karachi, Pakistan, Kolkata, India or Los Angeles, USA are also known for their poor air quality. Paris, France and London, UK also get periodical smog, especially during very hot or very cool days.

To find out the air quality at your destination, see the live maps at

Planning Your Trip

Consider the following factors when you plan your travels as they will likely affect your body’s reaction to air pollution:

  1. Pre-Existing Health Condition: Do you have asthma, allergies, chronic pulmonary infections, or heart disease?
  2. Age: Elderly and young children are more susceptible to air pollution because of pre-existing conditions and because young children take in more air than adults for their body weight.
  3. Destination: Are you traveling to an urban or rural area? How often does it rain?
  4. Length of your stay: Long-term exposure to pollution will have a greater impact on your health.
  5. Season: What season are you traveling? Will there be a lot of pollen? Smog tends to occur during hot and humid times of the year.

Travel Tips

While, as a traveler, you are unlikely to suffer long-term consequences of repeated exposure to smog, you may temporarily experience shortness of breath, worsening of asthma and allergy symptoms, coughing, and throat or chest irritations. Follow these tips to mitigate the effect of air pollution when traveling:

  • Follow alerts and instructions to stay indoors during high smog days. Prefer visits of museums and monuments to walking around the city.
  • Whether you are an active person or not, avoid high physical activities during high smog days.
  • Consult your doctor prior to your trip, especially if you have asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Travel with an inhaler, antibiotics or oral steroid as recommended by your doctor.
  • Consider traveling with a breathing mask.
  • Install a pollution tracker app on your smartphone. Our favorite one is the Plume Air Report app. The app will give you live and forecasted smog/air pollution reports for any city on earth.

If you are traveling to highly polluted areas and feel ill, visit a local doctor. Remember Assist America is here to ensure you get the best care and can assist you in finding the best doctor or healthcare facility near you. View the full list of our services on the Assist America website.

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More Info

For more information, contact Assist America at the number on your membership card, or via e-mail at

For pre-trip information: Assist America members can view pre-trip information on the Assist America website, Log in using your Assist America reference number. Interested in learning more about Assist America? Please visit us at Tell a fellow traveler about the newsletter and show them how to subscribe online! Interested in having your organization becoming a member of Assist America? Please e-mail us at
The content of this edition of AssistAlert is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace further investigation or personal observations. If you are planning travel, or are traveling in or proximate to the locations identified in this newsletter, you are encouraged to contact SecurAssist for additional information.

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