Tips to Stay Safe and Cope With Air Pollution

While the world is steadily becoming a cleaner place to live in, India's air quality is at an all-time low which has resulted in its citizens grappling with a myriad of health issues. Even China, which has been consistently ranked as the world's largest polluter has managed to clean up its act. Statistics released by NASA satellite data have revealed that air pollution levels in China have dipped by about 17 percent between the years 2010 and 2015. On the other hand, air pollution levels in India have witnessed a marked increase by as much as 13 percent between 2010 and 2015 (NASA satellite data). The number of premature deaths in India owing to increasing pollution levels is on a rise as demonstrated by a recent report published by NGO Greenpeace where annual air pollution-related deaths were pegged at an astonishing 1.2 million.

It comes as no surprise that Delhi tops the list of the most polluted cities in India as demonstrated by the recent toxic smog that enveloped Delhi and northern parts of India. The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology reported that the pollution levels were so dire in the capital that it surpassed the World Health Organisation's (WHO) safe limits by almost 30 times. As per WHO, the concentration of harmful PM 2.5 particles topped a whopping 700 micrograms per cubic meter (mpcm). To give you a fair comparison, the highest reading recorded in London was recorded at a mere 69 mpcm. These fine particulates are tiny enough to be absorbed deep into the lungs and bloodstream which further results in respiratory disorders like bronchitis, asthma as well as inflammation of the lungs. There is no doubt that India’s air pollution has become a serious public health issue.

There’s also a common myth that air pollution only affects our lungs. However, this couldn’t be further away from the truth. Prolonged exposure to these particulates can lead to life-threatening heart attacks and strokes as a result of blockages in the arteries. It can further result in the death of heart tissue owing to oxygen deprivation causing inadequate blood supply which can eventually lead to permanent heart damage (infarct formation). Furthermore, as per a report published by Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, long-term exposure can eventually end up reducing lifespans by 0.6 years. Keeping this in mind, we should do our bit by adopting adequate safety measures as time is running out. Here are some quick tips :

1. Try exercising during off hours and avoid exercising outdoors during the most pollutant-heavy times of the day.

2. Avoid eating out, especially junk and fast food. When dealing with the harmful effects of smog, oily & fatty foods can create additional levels of stress in your body.

3. Take responsibility of your own trash. Avoid using plastic bags and instead opt for brown paper packaging or your own bags for carrying groceries.

4. Invest in a good quality air purifier and more importantly, try cleaning in on a regular basis.

5. Avoid stepping out as much as you can. However, if you feel the need to venture out, make sure to put on an air-purifying respirator mask instead of wearing a cheap knock-off as respirator masks completely seal the face and have a proper filter to prevent contaminated air entering your mouth or nose.

Final Thoughts

Help yourself and everyone else breathe easier by adopting green initiatives. Smoke less, reduce your carbon-footprint and use public transportation whenever possible. Only together can we ensure our country stays clean, green and environmentally friendly. After all, your life and the life of your loved ones may depend on it.

AN Nov 49/17

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