Assessing Potential Public Health Concerns in Airbnb Venues in Four Canadian Cities
Airbnb is the world’s leading platform for peer-to-peer (P2P) short-term housing rentals. There are more than 100,000 Airbnb venues across Canada. Legislative efforts to regulate the P2P housing marketplace have not broadly considered public health impacts including injury prevention, tobacco smoke exposure, and food safety. Using publicly available data, our study quantified the proportion of Airbnb venues in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City that report 1) having injury prevention amenities (smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and first aid kits); 2) allowing smoking; and 3) providing breakfast. Data were collected in May 2018 for 31,535 Airbnb venues in Vancouver (n = 6,385), Toronto (n = 15,722), Montreal (n = 6,702), and Quebec City (n = 2,726). Most venues reported having a smoke alarm (89%), approximately one half reported having a carbon monoxide detector (56%), and less than one half reported having a fire extinguisher (47%) or first aid kit (35%). A small proportion reported providing breakfast (13%) and fewer reported allowing smoking (4%). We found safety deficiencies in thousands of Airbnb venues in these four cities. Would-be guests might be exposed to secondhand or thirdhand smoke in some Airbnb rentals. This study identified thousands of venues that are serving food, which potentially presents challenges related to food safety. Government agencies should take into account public health concerns when regulating the P2P housing marketplace.
Speaker / Author:
Hudson Robert Kennedy, River Hill High School
Cathy Egan, MBA, CPHI(C), CIC, Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
Kevin Welding, PhD, Department of Health, Behavior, and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health