Delhi Air Pollution: Who Is Affected The Most By The Toxic Air? Expert Shares Preventive Measures To Reduce Exposure

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Air pollution is a global crisis that poses significant threats to public health, and its impact on our well-being cannot be overstated. The sheer scale of its consequences is alarming; it’s the single most significant environmental health risk, contributing to millions of premature deaths annually. 

In an interview with Zee News English, Dr Vivek Nangia, Principal Director & Head, Pulmonology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket talks about who is being affected the most by air pollution; and preventive measures for individuals.

Dr Vivek says, “In 2015, air pollution was linked to approximately 16% of all global deaths, equating to one in six deaths worldwide, surpassing the combined death toll of HIV, TB, and malaria. The situation is even direr in specific regions, like the Indo-Gangetic belt in India, where air pollution is exacerbating, causing the average lifespan to decrease by nearly 12 years.”

“Certain segments of the population are more susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution. The extremes of age, particularly those aged 60 and above and children under five years old, are at the highest risk. Additionally, individuals with pre-existing comorbid conditions, such as chronic lung diseases (e.g., bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart disease, liver or kidney diseases, and immunosuppressed individuals, are especially vulnerable to developing complications due to exposure to polluted air,” highlights Dr Vivek.

Preventive Measures for Individuals to Reduce Pollution Exposure

While addressing air pollution primarily requires systemic changes at the national and global levels, Dr Vivek guides us through preventive measures individuals can take several actions to reduce their exposure and protect their health:

1. Monitor Air Quality: Stay informed about the Air Quality Index (AQI) in your area. Adjust your outdoor activities based on AQI levels. Avoid strenuous physical activities when the AQI is 200 or higher, and if it surpasses 300, refrain from outdoor activities altogether, especially for high-risk groups.

2. Use N95 Masks: If you must go outside in highly polluted areas, wearing N95 masks can provide some protection. These masks can filter out up to 95% of PM 2.5 particles. There are also N99 masks available, offering even greater filtration capabilities.

3. Indoor Plants: Indoor plants can help improve indoor air quality by absorbing and adsorbing particulate matter and certain toxic gases. They contribute to cleaner, healthier indoor air.

4. Quit Smoking: Smoking in areas with poor air quality compounds health risks. High levels of PM 2.5 in the air are equivalent to smoking cigarettes. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the health hazards associated with polluted air.

5. Flu Vaccination: Individuals in high-risk groups should consider getting a flu vaccine, as air pollution can weaken the immune system, making them more susceptible to infections like influenza.

6. Reduce Fossil Fuel Usage: Minimize the use of fossil fuels for heating and cooking to decrease indoor air pollution. Utilize cleaner energy sources whenever possible.

7. Indoor Air Quality: Ensure that your indoor environment is clean and well-ventilated. Regularly clean and maintain air conditioning and air purification systems.

While comprehensive solutions require large-scale efforts, individuals can take steps to protect themselves and reduce their exposure to polluted air. By adopting preventive measures and supporting clean air initiatives, we can collectively work towards a healthier, pollution-free future.

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