Air pollution is often associated with crowded Chinese cities and expat workers in particular can find it hard to cope and be concerned about health implications.

But recent air pollutions warnings in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and London show that even apparently cleaner cities can experience the same kind of health risks.

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One global firm, Japanese electronics giant Panasonic, has announced plans to pay expat workers in China a wage premium to compensate for dangerous air pollution. Thought to be a global first, Panasonic describes the payment as a ‘premium for expats to compensate for a difficult and sometimes harsh living environment.’

The air quality in many Chinese cities is routinely found to be at hazardous levels. Chinese government statistics indicate that air quality standards are well below internationally accepted levels in all but three of 74 major cities.

However, it is becoming more common in other cities. Recently Paris banned cars on certain days and public transport was free to encourage more people to leave their cars at home to try to reduce the effects of air pollution. Brussels also introduced free transport for a few days when the pollution was at its worst.

This week in the UK people with health problems, such as lung and heart disease, were advised to avoid exercise outdoors as air pollution affected London and other cities in the south of England.

In the short term, polluted air leads to irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, nausea, bronchitis and pneumonia. According to the World Health Organisation air pollution led to seven million deaths in 2012.

‘The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,’ said Dr Maria Neira from the World Health Organisation.

Meanwhile a British based company is offering life insurance for expats via an instant online quotation system. Expats can be put off life insurance by the cost and by the time it takes to go through the application process, including medical forms and doctors reports.

Global Life Cover, claims that the process does not need to take months and is offering a life insurance quote and policy issue within minutes.

‘Traditionally, life insurance for expats was a long winded process where applicants had to submit an application form on paper to the insurer who would then decide what medical information was needed. This normally included having to take and pay for a medical from an English speaking doctor. The entire process could take months, and in some cases delayed the expat from commencing his or her new job,’ said Hugh Brumfitt, a partner a Global Life Cover.

He said that the firm provides a life insurance quote and policy issue in minutes, offering expats with up to $500,000 cover, even in high risk countries which are often rejected by underwriters and insurers.

Expats who are employed can receive life insurance up to $250,000, no questions asked, and up to $500,000 with only a simple health declaration to complete.

‘By providing life insurance for expats in China, Russia, South America, Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa the Middle East and more countries, we are ensuring that our clients can be covered in high risk environments across the developing world, thus providing them with peace of mind as well as life insurance cover,’ added Brumfitt.

The firm is now looking at introducing critical illness policies, which pay out on the diagnosis of one of the specified illnesses including most types of cancer and heart conditions.