Visiting major European cities can be bad for your health, according to a new study by the European Federation for Transport & Environment. And visiting Prague can be the worst of all.
Summer tourists are “forced to smoke” in Europe’s most popular cities, says the association, which examined rates of air pollution and fine particle contamination across the top 10 most-visited cities in Europe.
“When air pollution is bad, we are told to avoid eating or exercising outside,” says Transport & Environment air quality and diesel coordinator Jens Müller
“But walking around cities and eating on restaurant terraces is what city breaks are all about. Right now, tourists, including kids, are more or less forced to smoke, in terms of the health impacts.”
Transport & Environment compiled numbers from various sources for the study, and drew a parallel between air pollution and cigarette smoking based on research by Berkeley Earth.
According to their findings, visiting Barcelona or Dublin for a 4-day stay is the equivalent of smoking one cigarette in terms of the effects of air pollution on a tourist’s lungs. Paris ups that number to 2, and London rates 2.75 ciggies.
But visiting Prague for four days is the equivalent of smoking a whopping four cigarettes, according to the study.
That means even a non-smoker out and about in Prague will consume the equivalent of one cigarette per day via air pollution.
Prague and Istanbul were the worst cities for air pollution among the 10 most-visited at the equivalent of four cigarettes per stay each. Milan rated 3 cigarettes, while Amsterdam, Vienna, and Rome scored 2.
Müller cited cars that don’t meet emissions standards as one of the greatest sources of air pollution in Europe’s major cities during the summer.
“Cars are the worst cause of air pollution in cities during the summer,” he says. “Cheating carmakers should be given a deadline to truly clean up the mess they created. If they fail, polluting cars should quickly be banned from cities to protect residents.”
“City bosses need to get a grip on air pollution or risk a tourist backlash.”