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How to prevent lung-related issues emerging from air pollution

Air pollution, a pervasive environmental hazard, poses significant threats to lung health. It is the ninth leading risk factor for cardiopulmonary mortality, affecting nine out of ten individuals residing in urban areas globally.

The detrimental effects of air pollution on the lungs are manifold, ranging from exacerbating existing conditions to causing new ones.

Long-term exposure to air pollutants can lead to chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen oxides are particularly harmful, inducing inflammation and altering lung function.

The detrimental effects of air pollution on the lungs are manifold, ranging from exacerbating existing conditions to causing new ones. (Photo: Getty Images)

In extreme cases, exposure to these pollutants can even lead to lung cancer. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable due to their less efficient or impaired particle clearance mechanisms.

Overall air quality in Delhi continues to be in the ‘Very Poor’ category with the latest AQI being 303.

Dr GC Khilnani, Chairman of the PSRI Institute of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, previously told IndiaToday.In that, there has been an exponential rise in patients experiencing acute asthma and COPD attacks.

Even those who were stable for an extended period are now presenting with severe cough, wheezing, breathlessness, and sleepless nights.

While experts have said to stay away from self-administered antibiotics, one should also avoid stepping out early in the morning during smoggy conditions when the pollutant levels are high.

However, there are several preventive measures that can be taken to mitigate the impact of air pollution on lung health.

Monitor AQI

It is crucial to monitor the air quality in your area regularly. Follow AirNow.gov to provide daily air conditions, helping you plan outdoor activities accordingly. On days when the air quality is poor, avoid outdoor exercise and high-traffic areas.

Avoid early morning runs as the pollutant levels are high.

Mask up

Consider shifting from motorised to active transport whenever possible and choose travel routes that minimise exposure to near-road air pollution. If you must be outdoors when pollution levels are high, use masks and moderate your physical activity.

Maintain indoor air quality

Indoor air quality is equally important. Avoid burning wood or trash and ensure your home is well-ventilated. Steer clear of second-hand and third-hand smoke, which can form lung-damaging compounds when combined with indoor pollutants.

Use air purifiers

Although air purifiers lack conclusive scientific evidence, they could be beneficial for those with underlying health conditions, with rooms kept sealed.

Edited By:

Daphne Clarance

Published On:

Oct 24, 2023

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