Air pollution in India
If you live in Delhi or any of the metro cities of India, air pollution is a term that you are likely to hear on a daily basis. In fact the national capital is one of the most polluted cities of the world (in terms of air pollution) according to the World Health Organization. Recently, an international journalist made news with his announcement to move out of India because air pollution had started to affect the health of his children. While moving may not be an option for you or for your family, there are measures that can be taken to combat the menace.
Why are children at high risk?
Children and young adults are at serious risk from air pollution. A recent Huffington Post news report says that the lungs of children do not develop fully till they are in their late teens. Also, children breath in more air per kilogram body weight than adults do. This means that there is a higher chance of pollutants entering their body than that of an adult’s. This also means that children are more at risk and in greater need of protection from air pollution. Here are 10 different ways in which you can protect your children from the hazards of air pollution.
Be the change you wish to see
- Go Green – Adopting a green, environment friendly lifestyle is by far the best way to protect ourselves and our children from air pollution. This may involve making a number of changes including contributing to tree planting efforts, using fuel efficient, low-pollution vehicles, saving electricity, reducing use of plastics, and use of solar energy as far as possible. By adopting such a lifestyle you shall also be encouraging your little ones to learn environment-friendly habits.
- Avoid High Pollution Areas – Avoid driving your kids to school and back or to classes through high pollution areas and the industrial parts of your city. Avoid biking with kids through highly polluted arterial roads during peak traffic hours. If you must, ensure that the car glasses are raised or that the kids are using anti-pollution masks.
- Practice Breathing Exercises – Teach your children breathing exercises that will improve lung capacity and help combat the harmful effects of air pollution. Bhastrika pranayama, for example, is a yogic breathing exercise that helps in detoxification of the lungs. Kapalbhati is another such breathing exercise that purifies the lungs and body. Do, however, exercise some caution in the practice of these breathing exercises. They are best practiced indoors if you live in a polluted part of the city or in a green park early in the day for best results.
- Invest In An Air Purifier – Air purifiers are a fantastic investment. Not only do their clean the air of your home, they keep off dust particles and help combat asthma. Many air purifiers available in the Indian markets also claim to remove PM 2.5 particulate matter. The air purifier market in the country is reported to have grown to about INR 150 crore but the cost of these devices are falling making them very affordable.
- Use High-quality Face Mask – How do you ensure that your children do not suffer from the hazarduous effects of air pollution and smoke when they are out on the streets? Buying a high quality face mask may be the solution. While buying a face mask, however, do read the fine print. Many masks come with an N95 certification which guarantees that your child shall face 95 percent less exposure to air pollutants while wearing the mask.
- Cultivate House Plants – Many of us avoid growing indoor plants due to fear of pollen and allergies. Quite a number of plants, however, help clean the air by generating high amounts of oxygen and cleaning up the mold. garden mum, Spider plant, Aloe, and the Weeping Fig are some plants that are great as houseplants as they are fantastic air purifiers and are low maintenance as well.
- Quit Smoking – Smoking is not only harmful to you but also to those around you. According to a news report from September 2015, second hand smoking alone exposes the lungs to 4,000 toxins and irritants that can damage the lungs. Children and young adults exposed to smokers may develop fibrosis or scarring of the lung tissue. While avoiding smoking at home is essential, quitting altogether is the best option.
- Avoid Crackers and Burning Trash – Diwali is an important festival, undoubtedly. But it is meant to be a festival of lights. Each year the urban regions of India suffer a huge setback (in terms of air pollution) following the festive season. Do not give in to the temptation of bursting high-decibel, smoke spewing crackers. Do not burn trash, firewood, dried leaves and other pollutants. Safely dispose these and recycle metals, paper, and plastics.
- Join Community Efforts – Community planting and cleaning efforts are a great way of cleaning up the neighborhood. Enlist the help of your children in planting and caring for trees, and understanding air pollution. Form a carpool for school drops, create a bikeway for children to cycle around the neighbourhood. Getting other parents to join your efforts will multiply the results manifold. It will also lend strength to your voice against issues and miscreants who pollute the neighbourhood air.
- Create Awareness – The greatest challenge that you shall face in your struggle to keep your children safe from air pollution is ignorance. Learn up about the air pollution measurement parameters and how they vary in your city and neighbourhood. Talks to friends, family, and neighbourhood associations. Discuss it at school meetings and play an active role in creating awareness about air pollution and pollutants.
How can Delhi bring down its pollution levels?
Pollution in Delhi: Industrial Units Choking Residential Areas
Pollution in Delhi: How Can It Be Controlled?
Air pollution in India
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