How polluted is your next holiday destination?

Jetting away from it all soon? According to research published by NATURE, an astounding number of people die every year from outdoor pollution levels that are risky – over three million, in fact.

Airport Parking and Hotels has just put together a guide comparing the air pollution rankings in some of the world’s top holiday spots and luckily – unless you’re heading for places like China – you should be OK!

Anything over 151 is considered negative, which puts destinations like Dubai in the unfavourable category (which clocks in at 222).The Air Quality Index is based on air pollutants that have adverse effects on human health and the environment, so if you or your family members have asthma, you might want to check before you leave.

Twenty eight cities in nineteen countries were reported on in the survey, including winter sun timeshare favourites Thailand and the US, plus India and Germany, each rated according to their current AQI (Air Quality Index).  If your country rates over 151, it’s better to try and avoid strenuous exercise or activities to be on the safe side, particularly for those age 55 or over.

Although Dubai’s score of 222 is less than ideal (in fact, it’s rated as “very unhealthy” according to the survey, Beijing has an Air Quality Index of 328 which puts it categorically in the “hazardous” range, a problem recently highlighted during the Beijing Marathon.

While European capitals like Paris, Madrid and Venice scored well at 46 or below, London fared less well at 77, with Amsterdam – perhaps surprising for a city with so many canals and walkways – scoring 66. Further afield, cities like Lima, Peru and Mexico City both scored in the moderate range, with Lima at 86 and Mexico City at 91 (perhaps surprisingly low!)

Any guesses which city scored the lowest in the survey? Although it didn’t rate every city in the world – just 28 cities in 19 countries – the survey spotlighted Bankok as having the lowest pollution and best AQI (18) with Washington, DC at 24 and San Francisco and Madrid at 25.

Interestingly, there was no correlation between temperature and pollution levels.

There is also an interesting real time map created by Beijing-based environmental group Air Quality Index China which works with environmental protection agencies in over 70 countries, constantly monitoring data from almost 6,000 “feeds” from over 8,000 air quality monitoring stations in about 1,000 cities. The map shows high pollution levels for places like India and Russia, with low to normal levels in Scandinavia, Scotland and the Canary Islands.

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