About 91% of the world’s population lives in areas with unsafe air pollution standards
Metropolitan cities such as Mumbai and Delhi are not only the most populous in India but also the most polluted, indicate statistics. Air pollution is a major cause of life-threatening diseases such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory syndromes such as asthma in these cities. The need of the hour is to take urgent action both at the public and governmental levels to curb air pollution.
Recent data by WHO indicates that Delhi recorded Particulate Matter 2.5 levels at 143 micrograms per cubic meter, which is 14 times higher than the recommended safe limit. Surrounding areas such as Jaipur and Chandigarh also have PM 2.5 levels which are well above the safe limits.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr. KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Smaller particulate matter is extremely harmful to health as these can enter the lungs more deeply causing various respiratory disorders. Some of the more common air pollutants such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide and nitrogen compounds have a direct impact on water bodies. Those vulnerable to the impacts of high air pollution levels include young children, women, outdoor workers, and the elderly. In rural areas, indoor smoke through animal waste fuels or firewood is a serious factor affecting the lives of a significant number of people. People with any existing breathing issues should avoid venturing out.”
Globally, 91% of the population lives in areas where air pollution standards are unsafe. About 23% of all deaths can be traced to some preventable environmental risk factor.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “It is advisable to keep in place an air filter or indoor plants to counter the effects of air pollution. Those who smoke should quit this habit or try to avoid smoking in this period. Making some dietary changes to include vegetables, legumes, nuts, and lean fats can also help safeguard one’s health. Changes at the personal level can go a long way in combating air pollution.”
Some tips from HCFI.
- Walk or cycle for short distance commutes or to the neighborhood market. Plan and combine all your errands in one area or close by areas for one trip. Limit driving and make use of carpool.
- Use public transport as much as possible for longer distances. Keep your vehicle well maintained for efficient functioning with regular servicing to reduce harmful exhaust emissions and get pollution check done as required. Follow speed limits. Avoid buying a diesel vehicle.
- Avoid burning candles dhoop or incense sticks at home or workplace.
- Quit smoking.
- Plant more trees. Limit the areas of bare soil by growing grass to reduce the amount of dust. Sprinkle water on exposed soil or construction sites regularly to reduce generation of dust. Wet mop the floors at home or workplace.
- Choose a place with least pollution levels when there is a choice.