Like every year, air quality in the city has started dipping with the advent of winter. The ambient level of air pollution is oscillating, at times exceeding the safety limits for key air pollutants that pose health risks to people.
The problem has aggravated due to lack of breeze allowing pollutants to remain static, emissions from motor vehicles and industrial pollution, as well as ongoing construction activities and road side dust. According to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, the wind speed and ventilation index are ‘extremely unfavourable’ for dispersion of pollutants.
Many are reporting allergic reactions due to the changing temperature and poor air quality. With rising toxic air causing allergies, viral, bacterial and fungal infections, infants and pregnant women are at greater risk of contracting winter allergies, according to Dr. Arun Suradkar, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune. Long term exposure to pollutants can lead to fibrosis of the lung and COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). He recommends certain measures you can take to prevent such a dire state.
Tips to protect yourself
- Clean all rooms thoroughly. Apart from regular cleaning vacuum regularly.
- Use air purifier with HEPA filters and seal the windows to prevent outdoor air coming inside.
- Dust frequently and vacuum after dusting, because any dust that is not captured in the damp cloth will likely settle on the floors.
- Use a heater with a humidifier: heaters that absorb the moisture in the room, making the air hot and dry. Dry air can lead to a whole host of problems ranging from dry skin to asthma.
- Avoid smoking – inhaling polluted air is equal to smoking 50 cigarettes a day. Smoke fumes add to air pollution
- Keep air-purifying plants like Aloe Vera and Ivy inside the house.
- Wash shower curtains, curtains and carpets at least once a month to keep them from growing mold. Besides, consider buying antifungal shower curtains.
Advisory for elderly, pregnant women, and children
- The body undergoes hormonal changes during pregnancy making the immune system sensitive and more prone to allergies. Remain indoors as much as possible. Children, pregnant women and older people, or those with pre-existing illness, should avoid roads with traffic.
- Comply with the routine of taking medicines; missing a dose or two may increase vulnerability to infections.
- Diabetics, cancer patients, transplant patients, elderly are prone to infections should be vaccinated with pneumococcal vaccines.
- Wash bedsheets weekly in hot water to kill dust mites and use hypoallergenic mattresses and pillows.
- Modify your diet to include seasonal fruits and fresh vegetables such as carrots and green peas and reduce diary intake. Include jaggery in diet that is known to counter the ill-effects of air pollution.