There's no denying that we've been breathing toxic air for last five days. Our mornings have started feeling dangerously suffocated. If you live in NCR or in Delhi, or what our Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal calls "a gas chamber" now, you'll know what we are talking about. After a sudden spike in pollution levels by 50 points overnight, Delhi woke up today to a "severe plus" situation with the overall air quality index reaching 459. Hence, public health emergency has been declared in the complete Delhi-NCR region by the pollution control body mandated by the Supreme Court.
Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in neighbouring states— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 1, 2019
It is very imp that we protect ourselves from this toxic air. Through pvt & govt schools, we have started distributing 50 lakh masks today
I urge all Delhiites to use them whenever needed pic.twitter.com/MYwRz9euaq
The city has been trapped in toxic smog since Diwali. As a result, Delhi schools will remain closed till November 5, Tuesday. The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has also banned construction activity in the region along with a ban on bursting of crackers during the winter season. So, weddings can say bye-bye to celebratory firecrackers effective immediately.
Furthermore, if the air quality continues to be in the "severe plus" category for more than 48 hours, emergency measures such as odd-even car rationing scheme and banning entry of trucks in Delhi-NCR will be taken under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
I had an excellent meeting wid Sh Bhure Lal ji, EPCA chief. I sought guidance from him and reiterated the commitment of our govt in dealing wid pollution. I also assured him all cooperation in implementing GRAP and other measures.— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 1, 2019
Delhi CM blamed the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab for this life-threatening situation, where thousands of farmers at this time of year burn crop stubble, sending vast clouds of smoke drifting across northern India. And according to a recent study, people living in the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) region, which includes Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, are expected to lose seven years of their life because of severe air pollution. If this isn't scary, we don't know what is!
During the release of this analysis, Dr Arvind Kumar, a chest surgeon from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, "I am seeing 28-year-old non-smokers with stage four lung cancer. It's a very painful experience for me. I am very angry because I am losing young patients to air pollution." He further said that in 1988, 90% of lung cancer cases were found among smokers but now 50% of such cases are seen in non-smokers, "Air pollution is a Group 1 carcinogen. The contents of polluted air is similar to cigarette smoke."
The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), produced by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, shows there has been a 72% increase in pollution from 1998 to 2016 in the region which accounts for 40% of India’s population.
Till policies and measures come into place in this regard, here are some tips to stay safe and sane during these tough times.
1. Stay indoors as much as possible to avoid exposure to hazardous, polluted air.
2. Install air purifiers at home and your place of work to keep whatever amount of polluted air entering the room at bay.
3. Wear an anti-pollution mask before stepping out to prevent inhaling toxic air.
4. Avoid outdoor workouts and opt for indoor exercises instead. "People have also been advised to not exercise in the open till the pollution level reduces and special care should be taken of the children, aged and vulnerable population," said EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal.
5. Surround yourself with plants and trees. Having houseplants is scientifically proven to reduce air pollution. Indoor plants such as Golden Pothos, Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), Spider plants, among others are best in keeping air purified with the house.
6. Drink more water than you usually do. Nothing below two litres is acceptable in such a crisis. Also, include other liquids like fresh fruits and vegetable juices in your everyday diet.
7. Increase intake of immunity-boosting foods in your diet. Think gooseberries, flaxseed oil, vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, vitamin E-rich foods, honey, garlic, neem, green tea, oatmeal, carrot juice, among others.
According to weather reports, increased wind speed due to a fresh western disturbance would help in dispersing pollutants from the air faster from Saturday. Here's hoping for a better tomorrow, literally.
Featured Image: Shutterstock
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