Things to Note When Travelling to Polluted Cities

Whether you are excited about planning your next trip abroad with your family or you are just preparing for a business trip, there are certain facts you need to consider when you travel to a polluting country.

It turns out that nowadays, there are other types of indicators that you need to consider when you prepare for your trip. When you travel to a polluted city it’s not enough just to check the weather forecast; it’s also recommended to see the Air Quality Index (AQI).

The AQI will tell you how unhealthy the air is in a city. Once the level of pollutants reaches a critical concentration, it’s no longer safe to breathe outdoors.

This is not something to overlook. According to the 2014 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), one quarter of the world’s population now breathes unsafe air. The correlation between polluted air and health problems is frightening. In a previous article, we covered the topic of how fine particulate matter affects you. These are tiny particles that come from fuel combustion and can easily penetrate our bloodstream and contribute to cardiovascular and lung disease.

Now let’s start digging into the things that are directly under your control. These are easy ways to reduce your exposure to bad air when you travel to the biggest polluting cities.

Wear an air pollution mask

If you are traveling to a country like China, this is something you should do. Larger cities in China have serious problems with air pollution, particularly in Beijing and Shanghai. It is common for locals to wear masks on days with hazardous air pollution. Here we list with three basic types of masks available.

1. Surgical masks

This is your basic surgical mask. It’s exactly what a surgeon wears in the operating room to protect the patient from any contaminants from his/her saliva. It also protects the surgeon from inhaling or ingesting any fluids from the patient.

Pros: They are quite comfortable and very light. They are typically made of cotton and are cheap.
Cons: They do not fit well against the face, even when you pinch the metal band at the bridge of the nose. In general, they are not very safe because they don’t create a seal to block out air pollutants and they have no filter.

2. Disposable masks

You can wear this mask a few times before discarding them. They were initially designed for factory and construction workers and they create a good seal around the face, thus stopping any particles from entering the nose or mouth.

Pros: They have a filtering efficiency of 90% which is great, and they come at very affordable prices.

Cons: They have a very industrial look so they are not very attractive, and they must be thrown away after 3 or 4 uses because you can’t change the filter.

3. Reusable masks

This type of masks allows you to replace the filter. They typically come in a variety of prints and colours and are a perfect solution for frequent travellers.

Pros: They come in a variety of sizes so you can find the perfect fit; this is a key feature. You can also change the filter and keep using the same mask.

Cons: They come at higher prices and the filter refills are sold separately. For most models, filters must be replaced after 50-70 hours of use.

Download predictive pollution apps

There are now several options for apps that offer predictive outdoor air quality reports. Microsoft, for example, launched an app that provides air quality information for more than 200 cities in China up to two days in advance. The Indian government aims to help residents navigate polluted Delhi, launched the mobile app SAFAR-Air, complete with next-day air forecasting.

Buy an air purifier

If you are travelling for an extended period, you should consider this option because the air pollution present outdoors also gets easily into your house. Air purifiers are already a staple in many urban homes. The filter the air indoors and remove most of the harmful particles.

Purlife’s indoor air purifier can remove up to 99.97% of pollutants using a 3M™ HEPA filter and even has a smart sensor and auto speed mode function to work according on air quality.

Exercise at off hours

When you exercise, you inhale more air and it goes deeper into your lungs, that’s why it’s better to hit the running track early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the most pollutant-heavy times of the day. And in general, avoid exertion on days with particularly bad pollution.


These are some basic thing that can make a big difference to protect your health when travelling to a polluting country. Make sure to follow our advice and you’ll be good.

What other things do you consider when travelling to countries like China or India? Let our community know by leaving your comment below.