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When Breathing Became A Burden : Delhi’s Pollution Problem

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Post Diwali Delhi woke up to toxic air and grinding air pollution, it left me, a patient of chronic sinus in a storm of cough, infinite sneezes (mind you it’s an geometric progression) and all sorts of conventional and unconventional cures. It compelled me to dig out the reason behind the deprivation of my right to breathe ( an awesome campaign by students) and here’s what I have to say .
Diwali Night? At Your Own Peril.

The festivities of the festival of lights are incomplete without firecrackers; little did we realize that PM 2.5 in Delhi went up to 999 in the US Embassy area and 702 in Anand Vihar. In R K Puram, PM 2.5 went up to 643 micrograms which is almost ten times the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic meters and PM 10 stood at 999 micrograms per cubic meters which is also way more than the safe limit of 100 micrograms. Delhi on the Vishkarma day woke up to 200 meters of smog.

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Other contributing factors-

Agricultural fires in fields of neighboring states, particularly Punjab and Haryana, are a major contributor in the deterioration of ambient air quality which will also suffer due to inversion and calm meteorological conditions that are currently prevailing. Delhi bore the brunt of Punjab’s elections as the farmers burnt the stubble. Vehicular traffic remains the same old factor. Road dust adds to the problem.

Hazards Of Such Air Quality-

The common effects of air pollution include irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Poor air quality can also exacerbate underlying lung problems, such as bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or allergic rhinitis. No wonder the queues for nebulizers last forever at the dispensaries and clinics.

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The measures that have been thought of-

Road vacuuming , sprinklers and mist fountains to settle down dust, installing outdoor air purifiers , sweeping roads at night so that dust settles by morning, controlling crop burning, bracing the public transport , shifting to cleaner fuels in the long run.
The Centre had an action plan for states in July 2016 with policies like green buffers along traffic corridors , greening of open areas, ban on stubble burning, installing emission traps in brick kilns and the progress is slow. Slow but not negligible.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure-

Indoor plants like spider plant, Boston fern and English ivy and areca palm are natural air purifiers and can be put around the house, running steam in rooms for 15 minutes can improve air quality, the N99 and N95 masks can be used while outdoors, wetting the area around the house, keeping soft toys away and removing carpeting, shifting to CNG and other clean fuels are few tips to protect oneself from the menace. Avoiding morning walks for the time being can save you from the early morning haze.

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The Masked Menace-

If you think getting the special masks are easy then just check out the nearby chemist and drug stores only to find a three hour waiting. This has even triggered scuffles in neighborhoods. Online bookings and purchase clearly emerge as a better option.

Apps To Check Out-

Before you step out of the house these are the apps that are must haves in your phone (particularly for people residing in Anand Vihar and near IGI airport):-
1. SAFAR Air App: Launched by the Ministry of Earth Sciences it lets you keep a trap of AQI( air quality index) in Delhi, Pune and Mumbai and gives health advices based on predicted figures.
2. SAMEER: This app provides you an hourly update of the national air quality index published by the central pollution control board.
3. DPCC’S Index: Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s App provides data on the air quality for civil lines, Punjabi Bagh , Mandir Marg, Anand Vihar IGI airport, and RK Puram areas.

Rest lies on the state government and your immune systems 😉

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