Delhi haze and the civic breakdown it brought upon the national capital hold a lesson to all major cities in the south: Act when there’s still time
Six ways this air’s killing us
- A common respiratory disease among people living in highly polluted areas is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Its symptoms are shortness of breath, chronic cough and sputum. Around 5.56 lakh people die from COPD in India annually. Over 30 million suffer from it.
- Doctors attribute 40 per cent of deaths to decline in air quality. Smoking, exposure to biomass fuel and kerosene smoke are major contributors to respiratory diseases in low and middle-income countries.
- The possibility of contracting communicable diseases such as pneumonia and TB is higher in polluted areas. When overall air quality is low, the amount of airborne dust indoors is high. This causes early onset of lung disorders.
- A report by Chennai’s Coastal Research Centre shows air in industrial areas has a higher concentration of toxic substances such as arsenic, manganese and nickel. This can cause lung cancer, skin disorders and affect the liver, bladder, and brain.
- Developing respiratory illnesses is common in humid conditions as particles stay suspended in the air. “When there is smog, there is always a spike in diseases,” says Dr P Kuganatham, a public health consultant.
- Asthma is rising and a lot of children with no genetic history of respiratory disorders are developing breathing difficulties
( Text: Sushmitha Ramakrishnan )
Masks: Brands like 3M, Honeywell, Vogmark, Cambridge and SmartAir are selling various pollution masks that promise protection against gaseous pollutants, PM 2.5 particulates, pollen, smoke, and even viruses and bacteria. The basic N95 mask filters up to 95 per cent of PM 2.5 particulates.
The N99 and N100 masks promise even more efficiency. Look for masks that make exhalation easier and have no moisture problems
Price range: Rs 1000 to Rs 10000
Home air purifiers: Can trap dust, pollen, allergens and PM 2.5 particulates. Xiaomi, Eureka, Philips, and Samsung all have models specific to the Indian home, good enough to clean up a 14x12-feet room
Price range: Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000
Portable air purifiers: Less bulky, some can be packed into a suitcase too, but good only for small areas. Lack filters that can trap smaller particulates. Still, useful
Price: Rs 5000
Air purifying bulbs: Not filters but ionisers—they release ions into the air to trap dust and fall to the floor. Useful if you have a smoker at home, or pets. Good for small areas such as bathrooms, closets, kitchens, etc.Price range: Rs 1000 to Rs 3,000
In-car air purifiers: These release negative ions that trap particles in the air and fall to the floor
Ozone dispensers:Mostly for cars, use ozone to kill mildew & bacteria. Side effects include lung irritation. Not recommended for those with respiratory diseases
Here's a look at the effect of pollution in major south Indian cities:
BENGALURU: If you’re caught in a traffic jam in Bengaluru, which is every day, someone will say, before long, “We’re becoming like Delhi.” The city’s treehuggers say we’re already there. But in the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), officials say Bengaluru is at least two decades from Delhi. (Read More)
CHENNAI: Unlike in Delhi, emissions from the industrial clusters in Chennai’s hinterland are blown away by breeze. Therefore, Chennai stands smug in the belief that it will never be a Delhi. (Read More)
HYDERABAD: How long would it take for Hyderabad to suffer the fate of our smog-smothered national capital? Not too long, given that the city figures among the top 100 cities in the world as far as terrible air quality goes. (Read More)
KOCHI: Compared to other major cities in the country, Kerala’s cities are better placed in terms of ambient air quality. However, Kochi reports the highest pollution levels in the state, ranking 88th among cities in India. (Read More)
BHUBANESWAR:: When WHO released its findings on pollution levels in 1,600 cities, Bhubaneswar was ranked 250th in the world. Since then, the once fresh air of Odisha’s capital has only gotten worse. (Read More)
VISAKHAPATNAM: According to the AP Pollution Control Board, three major factors are stoking pollution in Vizag with vehicle population being one and rising 10-15 per cent annually. (Read More)