In the wake of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) declaring a “public health emergency” in Delhi due to hazardous air pollution levels, experts have warned people to avoid outdoor physical activities like cycling and jogging.
Delhi woke up to a blanket of smog on Tuesday with air quality touching hazardous levels. The air quality index was very severe with high particulate matter at a 2.5 level at many places.
Air pollution poses a major health risk and can cause stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases. According to the WHO, 92% of the world’s population lives in areas where the air quality is below the WHO standards. About 88% of premature deaths occur in the low- and middle-income countries, where air pollution is escalating at an alarming rate.
Dr Vikas Maurya, senior consultant & head of department from Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi, talks about air pollution and how we can protect ourselves from its harmful effects.
What are the harmful effects of smog
- It can lead to the onset of allergies or aggravate existing allergies and decrease lung immunity.
- It might be instrumental in causing premature birth.
- It can decrease lung function across age groups.
- It might aggravate pre-existing lung and cardiac functions along with uncontrollable or chronic coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
What are the preventive measures you can take?
- People should avoid going outdoors along with doing physical activities like cycling and jogging.
- N95 masks should be used if it is necessary to go out.
- Air purifying plants such as aloe vera, ivy and spider plant can be placed at home or in the office.
- To ensure that indoor air pollution does not take place, make sure that there is a chimney in the kitchen and an exhaust in the bathroom.
- Consume fruits rich in vitamin C, magnesium and foods rich in Omega fatty acids.
- Have herbal ginger and Tulsi tea.
With air pollution in mind, Delhi residents suggest host of remedies
With air quality in the Delhi-National Capital Region remaining a cause of worry for both authorities and its residents, people stressed the need for immediate steps to redress the situation and offered varied suggestions.
“This morning, visibility was so bad. I moved out to my balcony for fresh air, but couldn’t even breathe (properly). There wasn’t any other option but to move inside,” says Shipra Mehta of Lajpat Nagar.
“Environmental issues that need to be treated very seriously are unfortunately always brushed aside by both the people and authorities. I really feel that the government needs to pay more attention to the menace,” she said.
Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, described the city as a “gas chamber” and blamed stubble-burning in adjoining and nearby states for the hazardous air pollution levels.
“Delhi has become a gas chamber. It happens every year in these months. We have to find a solution to stubble-burning in nearby states,” he said in a tweet.
Shweta, a resident of Ghaziabad in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, said: “Every time we are looking for someone else to blame. Last year, it was stubble-burning in Punjab and Haryana. Delhi needs to take charge to find solution to its problems,” she said.
Of the multiple reasons impacting the capital’s environment, she said burning of garbage was one of them. “It was banned a long time ago but continues to occur all the time.”
Suggestions made by people to tackle air pollution
“The government should push for more public transport. People on their part should also take charge to curb this disastrous problem,” said Ashok Narwal, 42, an asthmatic patient.
“Diesel vehicles should be banned and more and more compressed natural gas pumps be installed. People should be encouraged to ride bicycles to cover small distances.”
Others said they experienced health issues due to polluted air, including irritation or breathing difficulties during outdoor activities.
“This increasing pollution is taking a toll on the Delhi people. I couldn’t go out for my regular cycling today (Tuesday) because of smog,” Rajat Verma, 35, told IANS.
Priyanka from Yamuna Vihar also demanded improvement in the public transport system.
“It feels bad when people don’t act responsibly even in taking small steps. They don’t even turn off their vehicles at traffic red lights,” she said.Being physically active will help to keep your lungs healthy. Click To Tweet
“We should plant more trees since deforestation is also leading to pollution,” said Aman, 22, from Ghaziabad.
Harsha Agarwal, 28, blamed Diwali firecrackers for the poor air quality in the region.
“The campaign against firecrackers cannot start a week before the festival nor on Diwali day. People in my locality were bursting crackers even days after the festival. The government didn’t take serious steps to control pollution.”
5 ways to detoxify your lungs naturally
Although you can’t single-handedly solve air pollution, there are many steps you can take to keep your lungs healthy so you can breathe easy. The truth is that protecting your lung health becomes a vital step in preserving your long-term health. Here are five ways you can cleanse your lungs naturally:
1. Eat healthy
Eat foods that are high in antioxidants, which have been shown to enhance lung capacity and improve the quality of breathing in patients. Blueberries, oranges, kiwi, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, green tea, and fish, in particular, are high in anti-oxidants.
2. Limit fat intake
Avoid or limit your intake of fat, especially saturated fat found in red meat and high-fat dairy foods. Studies have linked lung cancer to the intake of animal fats.
3. Get active
Being physically active will help to keep your lungs healthy, as well as improve the quality of life. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity like walking, swimming, etc, four to five times a week.
4. Try breathing exercises
Studies have shown that certain breathing exercises, such as pursed lip breathing, belly breathing – also known as diaphragmatic breathing – can help improve lung function, especially for individuals living with chronic lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But, always talk to your doctor or other healthcare providers before taking up any breathing COPD exercise programme.
5. Take a hot shower
A hot steamy shower daily may aid in removing toxins from your body. To achieve optimal lung health benefits, try adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to hot water and inhale the steam. This will help purify your lungs naturally. The expectorant compound found in eucalyptus can help soothe a sore throat, congestion and sinus problems.
AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, a renowned pulmonologist, termed the situation a “public health emergency” and stressed the need for initiating a movement to protect the environment.
He advised the elderly, children and patients with respiratory and cardiac problems to avoid strenuous activity, which leads to inhalation of greater volumes of minute pollutants, early in the morning or late in the evening.
“Pollutants get trapped closer to the ground when the temperature is low and there being no wind, it is in its peak, especially in the early morning and late evening hours. “It is better to go out when it’s bright and sunny,” he said.
With inputs from news source