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Air that We Breathe - Factors Leading to Poor Air Quality

The Air Quality Index (AQI) forecast for the week ahead was ‘Very Poor’, and rightly so. It could be seen easily in the school compound where many students and teachers who had gathered there for the morning assembly looked miserable with headaches and some with running noses. There were others with eye irritation and laboured breath. An inspector from the regional education department was to address the assembly, but, the principal made short of the assembly time, directed the teachers to move children to classrooms and asked them to close most of the windows in the class. An assembly was held in the school hall for senior class students and their teachers for a lecture by the inspector. The inspector lauded the decision of the principal to move all students indoors instead of in the school compound due to poor air quality in their region. He then advised senior students about ill effects on health when the air quality was poor. He told the senior students that they should take it upon themselves to spread the information on poor air quality in their friend circle and their relatives as well.

Factors Leading to Poor Air Quality

He informed them that apart from PM2.5 and PM10, the air quality also worsens due to dust, industrial emissions, wood and trash burning, due to increased construction activity, vehicular exhaust etc. At the time of agriculture harvesting and after harvest, places close to the harvest areas and fields experience poor air quality due to the process of making hay and stubble burning.

Effect of Poor Air Quality on Health

The inspector further shared the effect of poor air quality on health with the students. He said that short term and long term effects of air pollution could lead to nausea, allergic conditions, headaches and chronic respiratory infections. Heart patients and people suffering from asthma could face serious effects. Emphysema was another problem which people could face, especially those who smoked cigarettes.

How to Tackle Air Pollution

Then the inspector instructed on methods to combat air pollution situations. He advised that they must take forecast regarding air pollution seriously. If possible children should stay indoors, do their physical exercises indoors, avoid dusty and high traffic areas and drink lots of water to keep their bodies detoxified. He informed the students that like they used water filters to purify water, they could use nasal filters(best pollution mask) to filter polluted air.

Actually, nasal filters are very easy and safe to use. These are made out of medical grade plastic and are very soft and since these came in various sizes and shapes, they fit easily in our nostrils without causing discomfort or irritation. These are also transparent, aesthetic so that even a person standing next to the user may not be able to notice it on the user. Though best nasal filters last for up to 15 days in low pollution areas, it is recommended that the filters may be checked every few days and if found to be dark or black in colour, the product itself need not be discarded, only the filters may be replaced making it economical to use.