Last month, the pollution levels in Delhi plunged to the severe category with an AQI of 459, recording the worst air pollution levels since December 2021. It is no surprise that Delhi has been ranked as the city with the highest population-weighted PM 2.5 pollution in South Asia by the State of the Global Air report 2022. The city is shrouded in toxic smog through the winter months.
Ironically, this is also the time when the city is abuzz with weddings, events, and festivities, and people are out and about, increasing their exposure to the polluted air.
The impact of exposure to air pollution is often underestimated. While breathing difficulties, coughing, wheezing and chest pain could be the short-term or immediate repercussions, air pollution affects nearly every organ system in our body. Simply put, breathing in dirty air impacts virtually every tissue of the body in the long term, including the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, endocrine (hormone) system, urinary and digestive systems, and fertility, and also affects neurological and mental health. Air pollution remains responsible for the greatest number of deaths, causing 6.7 million deaths in 2019.
This means Delhi residents are at constant risk of illnesses. Add to this, the risk of seasonal flu and Covid still lurking, and people are in for a rough ride. So, what can one do to protect themselves? Experts unanimously agree that the best way to keep one safe from the impact of air pollution is to invest in a high-quality mask that one must continue to wear when stepping out.
"With pollution levels in the city at an all-time high, Delhi residents are at a high risk of respiratory and cardiovascular ailments, more so, in people with allergies. It is important to limit exposure and using masks as the first line of defense is your best bet for protection. Make sure you upgrade your cloth mask to one with a better filtration mechanism like an N95 or FFP2 S to keep out all kinds of particulate matter as well as infection-causing germs," says Dr. SC Ajmani, General Physician The masks must also conform to the face without gaps and sit perfectly on the bridge of the nose.
A study by the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self Organization, Germany, found that FFP2 masks provide 75 times better protection compared to surgical masks. A BIS-approved FFP2 S mask like Savlon protects from viruses, bacteria, dust, pollution, allergens, and pollen (>= 0.3 microns). These masks provide 95 percent protection from particle aerosols >= 0.3 microns.
These masks have electrostatically charged meltblown filters which provide advanced filtration compared to ordinary masks. These masks are also tested for comfort and skin compatibility. Savlon FFP2 S Masks are BIS Certified. Each batch undergoes rigorous testing on quality performance and efficacy as prescribed by BIS. By wearing a good quality, well-fitted mask the effects of viruses, bacteria, dust, pollution, pollen, and allergens can be greatly reduced and can contribute to overall better health.
While we, unfortunately, cannot change the quality of the air we are breathing, we can surely incorporate mask usage as a lifestyle change that will not only protect us from infections but also keep our bodies safe from the short and long-term impact of air pollution. So, upgrade your old mask to an advanced one, and step out to celebrate and enjoy the winter season that our Dilli is famous for. Because after all, "hygiene sahi toh health sahi". (KB/IANS)