Five ways to protect yourself from air pollution

Here are five methods you should consider to keep you and your loved ones safe from the worst of the unhealthy air.

Myupchar November 04, 2019 14:49:12 IST
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Five ways to protect yourself from air pollution
  • Keep a check on the air quality index, traffic reports and weather forecast

  • Installing a good-quality air purifier may help a bit

  • Eating a lot of antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory foods would better-equip your body to face the negative effect of pollution

Air pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR) is breaking new records every day - the air quality index in NCR was around "hazardous" levels at the time of going to print. (Last week, the Delhi government declared a health emergency and directed all schools to declare holiday till Tuesday, 5 November.)

The odd-even rule — effective from today — may help reduce emissions from vehicles, but it won’t completely negate the effects of pollution. That doesn’t, however, mean that we give up - there are simple and effective ways to make our homes and offices just a little bit safer.

Five ways to protect yourself from air pollution

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

Here are five such methods you should consider to keep you and your loved ones safe from the worst of the unhealthy air:

1. Be aware: Keep a check on the air quality index, traffic reports and weather forecast. Whenever possible, avoid going out, especially in areas with high traffic and areas where the pollution levels are high. Do not exercise outside either. According to the American Lung Association, you may get affected by pollution even if you are one-third of a mile (half a kilometre) from a busy road. Use local transport or carpool when you can, this would further reduce the overall pollution in your area.

2. Wear masks: If you absolutely have to go out, then the best way to stay safe is to wear a good quality mask. There are three types of masks you can choose from - P-rated, R-rated or N-rated. The only difference between the three is their capacity to resist oil-based pollutants. While N-rated masks do not protect you from oil-based pollutants, R-rated masks are somewhat resistant to oil and P-rated masks are strongly resistant. The most basic N-95 mask can filter up to 95% of the PM 2.5 - the most harmful particles in polluted air. However, there are more efficient masks like the N-99 and N-100 that can filter up to 99% and almost 100%, respectively. The P-rated masks are also available in the 95, 99 and 100 varieties.

3. Use air purifiers: Just because you are sitting indoors doesn’t mean you are safe from pollution. Experts say that the air inside your house is not untouched by the deteriorating air quality outside. Installing a good-quality air purifier may help a bit. There are two types of air filters - mechanical and gas phase. The former has a fan that helps push out the particulate matter only, while the latter works better for gaseous pollutants. However, most gas-phase purifiers are designed to filter specific types of pollutants only and are ineffective against the rest. And then there are UV-based devices - they work for certain pollutants but are ineffective against particulate matter.

4. Foods: Can you fight air pollution with food? Experts say: why not? Particulate matter and harmful gases in polluted air increase free radicals in your body and cause inflammation. So, eating a lot of antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory foods would better-equip your body to face the negative effect of pollution. So, add a lot of vitamin B, C, D and E in your diet along with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). This includes foods such as fish, fish oil, citrus fruits, olives, leafy greens, sprouts and avocados. 

5. Plant more trees: Trees can be our ultimate protection against pollution. Not only do they filter and clean the air - a single tree can store 13 pounds (nearly 6 kilograms) of carbon each year - they also release more oxygen, thus improving the overall air quality. It has been found that air quality is 75% better in the areas that have lots of trees. Growing Aloe Vera and spider plants indoors may also help.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article “Air Pollution Increases Risk of Diabetes”.

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