Staying healthy despite high levels of air pollution – eleven quick tips

As the winter season approaches in our country, wind movements reduce and the cold air settles low over the ground. Well-populated cities in the northern, western and eastern parts of the country traditionally face a blanket of smog at this time, created by dust, vehicular and industrial pollution.

Unfortunately in the last few years, crop fires have significantly added loads of smoke and ash to the air in North India. As a result, air pollution has increased dramatically. The Air Quality Index or AQI has repeatedly gone off the measurement scale. People are exposed to the equivalent of smoking multiple packs of cigarettes a day while performing their normal activities.

The government is taking several steps to manage the situation and to ensure a better future.  Here are some key actions that each of us can perform meanwhile, to help matters and to keep our families and ourselves healthy.

  1. Drink a lot of warm fluids, including lemon water and ginger tea. Drink fresh vegetable juices if you can, especially carrot, amla, and beetroot juice. Keep the body well-hydrated – this helps it flush out the contamination from the respiratory passages and eyes, through its natural defense mechanisms like the flow of tears.

  2. Keep your food and water covered to prevent contamination.

  3. Use a good quality N95 mask when outdoors if the air is particularly bad. Any other type of mask won’t really help. See if your family can learn to use these masks. If you can afford it, donate N95 masks to your domestic helpers and to the homeless for their well-being.

  4. Indoor plants such as Aloe Vera, Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, Spider Plant, and Areca Palms are said to help — especially when you can’t open doors and windows for too long to improve ventilation.

  5. Get an air purifier if you feel it is required, especially in homes with the elderly, ailing or infants.

  6. Minimize going out and don’t perform heavy exercises outdoors on polluted days. Avoid visiting areas with high traffic density.

  7. Practice Jal-neti – you can learn it from a good yoga expert.

  8. Avoid activities that increase pollution. Use public transport, use carpools, do not burn refuse & garbage, and stop others if you need to. Ensure construction sites don’t increase atmospheric dust- so no digging, demolition, tile cutting, drilling, etc should be allowed.

  1. Some people advocate turning vegan at such times to improve the body’s immunity to sickness from pollution.

  2. If you are a smoker – stop! Both for your sake and for others’ sake…

  3. Keep track of the air quality with apps like SAFAR, so that you can understand the worst polluted areas and time-periods of the day, and avoid these if possible.

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