“Fight bad air like you fight covid”
Times of India, dated 29/7/20, carried the above titled news on its front page. The air quality in India is said to be second worst in the world. This is cutting short the life expectancy of Indians by 5.2 years.
“Though the threat of novel coronavirus deserves every bit of attention it is receiving, embracing the seriousness of air pollution with a similar vigour will allow billions of people around the world to lead longer and healthier lives.” said Michael Greenstone from Chicago.
The air quality is measured by AQI – Air Quality Index. The greater the level of air pollution in a city, greater are the health concerns for its inhabitants. The AQI tracks ozone (smog) and particle pollution (tiny particles from ash, factories, soil, dust, pollen etc.).
AQI values above 100 are considered unhealthy for the sensitive group of people and as the levels increase, it becomes dangerously unhealthy for most people.
Health Problems due a High AQI level: aggravate respiratory diseases, allergies, cardiovascular damage, fatigue, headaches and anxiety. It can damage the reproductive organs, harm the liver, spleen and blood. There may be irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. The nervous system may also be compromised.
Keeping track of the current air quality information may help in protecting the vulnerable group like children, the teens, people with asthma or other lung complications, the elderly, those with a heart condition or those who have had a stroke.
A prevention plan can be put in place if the air quality is really bad in your city.
• Avoid morning walks.
• Restrict outdoor activities for children
• Keep your kitchen and bathrooms well ventilated.
• Ventilate your home and purify your car air.
• Stay away from high traffic areas.
For those who exercise outside (jogging etc.), if the AQI is particularly high on some day, avoid prolonged vigorous activity outdoors. The health effects of pollution are worsened over extended periods of exposure, and by the deep, rapid breathing that accompanies exercise.
Is there a solution out there? How do I continue to live in a metro city in India and counter bad air?
We all would agree that in order to survive in an urban city, restricting outdoor activities is not a good long term plan. The children need to step out to go to school and to play. The elders have to go out to for chores, works and jobs etc. A system needs to be adopted, maybe a lifestyle change that strengthens our internal organs and body to ward off these pollutants effectively. Something that builds our immunity strong enough to combat the ill effects of pollution on a daily basis.
One very potent solution is Steam – the moist warm air that is used world over to rehabilitate lungs and breathing function.
In order to beat the air pollution, daily steam bath can be taken with a few drops of eucalyptus oil. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Pulmonary & Respiratory Medicine showed that steam therapy was an effective solution to detox the lungs.
Steam also helps in removing the mucus from the upper airways, including the nose and throat , during a respiratory infection.
During the Corona pandemic, when our immunity should not be compromised, “Steam does help in activating the immune system” according to Dr Vichar Nigam, consultant, Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia, Pune.
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