High, rural ski areas show less air pollution

25th February 2022, by Abi Butcher

Skiing in more rural ski areas reduces air pollution. Pic: Arcteryx

Skiing in more rural ski areas reduces air pollution. Pic: Arcteryx

A new study on air pollution in ski resorts has concluded that skiers should seek out rural resorts at higher altitudes to ensure the best quality of air on their holidays.

The study by scientists at cleantech company Airly measured air pollution in ski resorts across Europe and Colorado between December 2021 and February 2022. Oberjoch in Germany was found to have the cleanest air, with Chamonix in France also scoring well, despite the fact the mountain town is sizeable.

Resorts in Colorado scored far better on air pollution that European resorts — with more space for the wind to transport the fumes.

Researchers found that the worst offending ski resorts were low-altitude areas in Poland and Romania, as well Innsbruck in Austria which over the research period recorded 18 episodes of inhalable, airborne particles of 10 micrometers and smaller (PM10).

We are aware that this finding is slightly misleading, because Innsbruck is a city from which you can ski, the indicators of pollution elsewhere are worrying. The New Year’s Eve fireworks in Innsbruck caused one of the spikes for air pollution, but the density of population and transport servicing the ski areas and the hospitality surrounding them were also cited as factors.

Airly spokesman Marcin Gnat said of the research: “We are aware that this analysis is not a complete description of pollution in the European winter and ski destinations and no one should make rankings out of it or point to these cities as most polluted as there are hundreds of resorts that we have no intelligence on”.

But he added: “If we could give some tips to the ski and clean-air lovers, we would recommend them not to choose deep and densely urbanised valleys, and instead think of more rural places on higher altitude.”

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