What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?
Air pollution harms human health both in the short and long term. We can’t always see or smell air pollution. So what can we do - right now - to help protect against air pollution?
Stay Educated On The Issue
Follow real time air quality (AQI) data and follow the news through reliable sources. Then plan your day. Remember there is no safe level of exposure to PM 2.5. The World Health Organization (WHO) set international standards around particular pollutants. For PM 2.5 the WHO guideline is exposure at no more than 25 micrograms per cubic meter in 24 hours; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guideline for AQI is a score under 50. WHO data shows Delhi with an annual average of PM 2.5 at over 150 micrograms per cubic meter - that is every month of the year, well above safe levels.
To get updated information on the AQI on any given day, go through any of the following links:
Consider Wearing A Mask
When outdoors, consider an N99 or N95 mask to help shield your body from breathing in pollution while outdoors. Make sure the mask fits snugly. That means no gaps where air can leak in, as this would negate the effect of the mask. The best mask in the world will do nothing for you if it doesn’t fit properly and that means no space at all for air to leak in.
Masks are reusable up to a point (based on pollution level and number of hours worn over many days, weeks or months). See individual manufacturer for specific product information on the recommended duration of use.
Limit Your Outdoor Time
If pollution readings are high, limit outdoor time and reschedule aerobic activity, games and exercise until the numbers come down. Often early mornings and evenings are times of the day with the worst air quality.
Consider Indoor Air Filters
For inside, consider indoor air filters for your home, especially the bedroom. Indoor air purifiers come in two basic categories: Mechanical air filters which remove polluting particles up from the air with 99.7 - 99.999% efficacy by capturing them on the filters. If you go this route, check that the filter uses a true HEPA filter (avoid those that claim “HEPA-style” or “HEPA-like”. The manufacturer only needs to state it is a HEPA filter. These are the only ones certified to work at this level.
The other category of indoor air filters is known as the electronic air filter. These use a process called electrostatic attraction to trap particles. Ion generators or ionizers disperse charged ions into the air. Some of these filters can produce ozone, which is a lung irritant. So get info on how each machine works to understand and side effects. There is much more information, check the following links: