According to a new study from the World Health Organization, Nine out of every 10 people on the planet breathe air that contains high levels of pollutants and kills 7 million people each year. Experts have now termed Delhi air quality ‘Hazardous’. The Air Quality Index scores have already crossed the 500 mark which is way beyond the severe air quality limit. Pollution levels in Delhi have been a cause of concern for a long time now; and in the past few days, the conditions have become worse. The PM10 levels in Delhi were recorded at 820 and PM2.5 levels at 320 termed as an ‘unhealthy score’.
The System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) had predicted deterioration of air quality in the city from November 5, 2018. Warning that the high level of moisture in Delhi’s atmosphere and a fall in temperature and upper winds from stubble burning sites will adversely impact air quality. The report said “AQI will touch the upper level of very poor from November 5 afternoon onwards” as per the SAFAR-forecasting model.
Also read: Low oxygen levels: Signs you may not be getting enough O2
In a situation when the air quality has become bad enough to even step outdoors; it is important for the residents of Delhi to take note of some basic tips to stay safe from dust and pollution.
- Avoid early morning outdoor routines– To begin with, it is recommended to stay indoors as much as possible and restrict any morning routine including morning exercise. In its advisory, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) has instructed residents of Delhi to avoid morning walks and outdoor activities as pollution levels are the highest during early morning hours.
- Get a mask– If one has to step out its advisable to not leave the house without a mask. The ability of a respirator to remove contaminants from inhaled air depends on the contaminant, type of filter or adsorbent material, respirator type and conditions of use. Surgical and comfort masks don’t provide adequate respiratory protection in heavily polluted areas. Hence, it’s imperative to invest in the right mask, a respirator that is rated N95/N99/FFP3 or is ‘NIOSH Approved’ that filters out more than 95% of particles (larger than 0.3 microns. Those dealing with COPD and asthma must use an N99 mask for better protection.
- Keep a first-aid/allergy kit handy– Keep the allergy kit ready with required medicines, inhalers and nebulisers especially if you have a family member with respiratory illness. In addition to this, one could also invest in supplemental oxygen cans to restore oxygen levels in the body and help breathe fresh air during peak pollution time. Air contains about 21 per cent oxygen while nitrogen, carbon dioxide, argon and other gases make up the rest. In congested areas, oxygen levels can fall to as low as 14 per cent with car fumes further increasing carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide levels in the air. Supplemental Oxygen in Can preferably Medicinal Grade such as MyOxy etc., is an essential first aid component and can act as a quick aid in emergency situations such as breathlessness and suffocation due to high pollution levels. With as less as 4-5 inhalations, supplemental oxygen instantly increases the oxygen levels in the body and helps restore normal function of the brain and body.
- Stay hydrated– Drink lots of water to maintain the levels of fluid in your body. One could also choose fruits and vegetable juices to boost immunity or herbal teas such as ginger and tulsi to minimize the effects of pollution. While we are all cautious of outdoor air pollution, little do people realize how detrimental indoor air pollution can be for health? The quality of air in your home and office can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outside and more severe than outdoor air pollution. Below are few tips to maintain a healthy and pollution free indoor environment:
- Use air-purifiers- Use air purifiers, especially for kids and older people (and even pregnant women) as they are most prone to the ill effects of toxic air.
- Maintain regular dusting habits, clean every part of your room regularly
- Use indoor plants– keep plants like jasmine, lavender, peace lily, spider, aloe vera and snake inside your home. These plants will not only naturally clean up the air inside the room, but also help as a mood refresher.
- Ventilate your home- Open your windows and doors between 3 pm – 5 pm and allow the air to circulate. On a bright sunny day, the concentration of PM 2.5 is the lowest in the air during these hours. Choose a day of low pollution and open the windows one room at a time for at least 10 minutes, before sealing them shut and switching those purifiers back on. Doing so will allow stale air from the previous day out and allow relatively clean air back in.