New Delhi: As the air quality in the national capital reached hazardous levels, the Delhi government on Saturday issued a health advisory, asking people to avoid outdoor activities and exposure to air pollution. The advisory said that air pollution poses a serious threat to the health of the residents, especially pregnant women, children, the elderly, and those with chronic diseases. The advisory also suggested some preventive measures to reduce the risk of respiratory and other ailments.
According to the advisory, the Delhi health department said that people should “avoid places with high air pollution like slow and heavy traffic roads, areas near polluting industries, construction/demolition sites, etc”. The advisory also said that people should avoid physical exercises like outdoor morning and late evening walks, jogging, and running, “specifically during days with severe AQI”. AQI stands for air quality index, which is a measure of the concentration of various pollutants in the air. The advisory said that an AQI above 300 is considered severe and can cause serious health problems.
The advisory also urged people to not smoke tobacco products, as they can worsen the effects of air pollution. It also advised people to avoid burning mosquito coils and incense sticks in closed premises and to stop burning wood, leaves, crop residues, and waste, as they can contribute to the air pollution. The advisory also recommended some personal hygiene measures, such as washing eyes with running water, gargling with lukewarm water, and eating a healthy and balanced diet, including fruits and vegetables, to boost immunity.
The advisory also asked people to consult a doctor in case of any symptoms of air pollution-related diseases, such as breathlessness, giddiness, cough, chest discomfort or pain, and irritation in the eyes (red or watery). The advisory also suggested some environmental measures, such as using public transport or car pools, practicing wet mopping instead of sweeping, inside homes and workplaces, and planting more trees and plants, to reduce air pollution.
The advisory came after the overnight rain on Friday brought some respite to the city, which had been choking under a thick blanket of smog for the past few days. The rain washed away some of the pollutants and improved the visibility. However, the air quality remained poor and far from the safe standards. At 7:00 am on Saturday, Delhi’s AQI was recorded to be 219, which falls in the poor category, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The CPCB said that the major pollutants in the air were particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and PM 10, which are tiny particles that can enter the lungs and bloodstream and cause various health problems. The CPCB said that the safe limits for PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100 micrograms per cubic meter respectively, but the levels in Delhi were several times higher than that. The CPCB also said that the air quality is likely to deteriorate further in the coming days, due to the change in weather and the increase in stubble burning in the neighboring states.