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Adaptation Aides to Survive Air Crisis Cannot be Undermined

Adaptation Aides to Survive Air Crisis Cannot be Undermined

Last year Delhites learned they lived in the most polluted metropolitan capital city in the world. This year Delhi became a national hotspot of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of which are exacerbated by hazardous and fatal air quality conditions. While government agencies are making efforts towards ‘mitigating’ air pollution, people of Delhi must not undermine the importance of ‘adaptation’ to minimize health impacts. But what do these two words exactly mean?

Mitigation refers to the process through which governments and other agencies minimize environmental and public health damage by addressing and eliminating the root cause of the environmental issues. For instance, pollution levels in an area can be minimized by promoting renewable energy plants and electric vehicle production that replace thermal power plants or conventionally powered vehicles. This action can significantly reduce particulate emissions in a region. Mitigation activities are long-term processes which can take several months or years to see positive results in reduction of environmental damage. On the other hand, adaptation refers to the process by which individuals in a community take certain measures to reduce the health hazards caused by a particular environmental crisis. Adaptive techniques must be applied while mitigation activities are ongoing, to safeguard your personal health and safety, while also doing the same for those around you. Examples of this include wearing masks and using air purifiers in regions with highly polluted areas. 

At a time when Delhi is experiencing the ‘twindemic’, the deadly concoction of air pollution and the virus, it is imperative that the people take appropriate adaptive techniques. Poor air quality in the city puts millions at risk of several respiratory illnesses, while the pandemic poses an additional health hazard. There have been correlations observed between high PM (particulate matter) readings in Delhi and a higher incidence of fatal COVID-19 cases. It must be borne in mind that while mitigation is taking its own course, there is no way the problem can vanish over time. And till the time AQI is as bad as Delhi experiences around the year, our health is constantly getting compromised. Hence, adaptation practices that reduce our exposure to air pollution become very crucial.

The pandemic has forced the society to make some hard adjustments. Children who went to school are now boxed in at home attending Zoom School. Work from home has become a norm in the professional world. The elderly forced to stay indoors and learn how to order groceries, shop and talk to their loved ones on their smart phones. We need to give air pollution the same kind of priority to air pollution as well, because whether we believe or not, it is doing damage in more ways than we can imagine. Exposure of an average Delhiite to air pollution is way above WHO standards for most part of a year, and becomes poisonous during October-December period. Therefore, we need much serious levels of adaptation to unbreathable air pollution scenarios.   

Lets take a look at some of the aides that can help in adapting to poor air quality and reducing health risks:
1. Respirators or Anti-pollution Masks: N95 or N99 masks are easily available at pharmacies and must be used at all times when outdoors. These prevent particulate pollutants up to 95% and 99%, respectively. Higher and more expensive grades of masks may filter out even gaseous pollutants using activated charcoal etc.
2. Air purifiers: A basic airpurfier uses HEPA filtration technology to clean air. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, and it works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps particulate pollutants. Since, much of the pollution is due to PM10 or PM2.5 grade pollutants, HEPA filter based air purifiers clean our indoor spaces effectively.
3. Indoor plants: Some indoor plants such as Devil’s Eye, Snake Plant or Areca Palm are cost effective ways to aid the process of air purification to some extent. While it is not proven that these act as effective air purifiers, it is certain that indoor plants do absorb some indoor pollutants including VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) improve the supply of oxygen in some cases. it is advised to conduct some research before buying these plants.
4. Supplemental Oxygen: For people with chronic respiratory illnesses, it is advised that they carry portable oxygen cans with in-built masks. If such people experience shortness of breath after being outdoors, this medical device can provide medical grade oxygen to them through the in-built mask.

The number of cases of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), fits of breathlessness and various other forms of lung disorders have gone up exponentially in Delhi. ‘Despite such a grave situation, the importance of supplemental oxygen is not understood by masses’, said Mr. Anand Gupta, CEO, MyOxy, leading manufacturers of oxygen supplements aides, in an interview with Sustainability Today. He further noted, that potable oxygen cans will soon need to become essential part of first aid kits in conditions like it is in Delhi’.

MyOxy provides complete solution for home care oxygen including the first of its kind disposable safe and lightweight Oxygen Can’approved by FDA’, with an in built mask, effective in fighting breathlessnss for a variety of reasons including air pollution. Visit website for more information.

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