For those of us living in certain parts of Northern India – Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and neighboring states – the onset of winter in October also ushers in the onset of unprecedented levels of air pollution. This year, the national capital witnessed alarming levels in the Air Quality Index (AQI), with some industrial areas breaching the 1000 mark -healthy AQI is between 0 to 50. The levels of a dangerous pollutant, PM2.5, was several times higher than the safe limit, and seven times higher than the city of Beijing, which consistently fares as of the most polluted cities in the world.
And it’s not just Delhi. Based on an analysis of the levels of particulate matter PM2.5 in the air, a survey by Greenpeace and AirVisual found that 22 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are in India.According to the World Bank, healthcare costs and productivity losses arising from poor air quality costs India as much as 8.5% of GDP.While a long-term solution must be implemented by policymakers, individuals living in these cities have tried to minimize the damage from poor air quality through devices such as air purifiers and anti-pollution masks. But the question remains: are these methods effective in the face of toxic air pollution levels?
How do air purifiers and masks work?
With growing awareness about the severe health impacts of air pollution, as well as the fact that indoor air pollution can be up to three times worse than outdoors, consumers have begun to heavily invest in pollution control techniques. So much so, that sales of air purifiers have spiked between 50-60% over the course of a year!
Air purifiers use advanced technology to trap impurities, such as PM2.5, in order to decontaminate the air you breathe indoors. The effectiveness of an air purifier to improve indoor air quality depends on various factors. One of the most evident ones is the fact that it will work the best in a closed room – particularly when outdoor air quality is at dangerous levels. However, it’s important to remember that carbon dioxide builds up in rooms that are closed for too long, so you must also periodically open doors and windows for air circulation. Most air purifiers come with a display that indicates the AQI inside the room.
The other important factor are the filters that your air purifier uses – not all models are equally effective. While the cheaper models may be attractive because of their price point, they are likely to have inferior technology and filters, and may be ineffective in battling extremely polluted air like in Delhi and other parts of North India.
But what about the air you’re breathing while outdoors? Here’s where the anti-pollution masks can come to your rescue. Surgical and cloth masks are not effective in blocking out impure air – they will not filter out the dangerous impurities like PM2.5. Therefore, you need to use masks that have been designated N95 or N99 – the numbers indicate the percentage of small pollutants that the mask is capable of blocking. The caveat is that they are truly effective only under precise conditions. They have very closely fitted to the mouth, and any slight variation can cause significant leakages and loss of effectiveness. Experts warn, for instance, that these masks are largely useless for men with large amounts of facial hair. Therefore, when you invest in an anti-pollution mask, make sure you are using it correctly to derive maximum effectiveness in blocking out harmful air pollutants.
While air purifiers and masks can provide short-term relief from toxic air, there is no research to show that they can shield against respiratory diseases and other pollution-related ailments. Therefore, it’s imperative to also have a long-term plan to safeguard your health in the future. An important way to do this is to invest in a health insurance policy, such as those offered by Bajaj Allianz Health Insurance, available on Finserv MARKETS. You can choose from a range of flexible insurance products, for yourself, your spouse, and your family, with diverse benefits to suit your unique needs.
Finserv MARKETS, a subsidiary of Bajaj Finserv, is a one-stop digital marketplace that has been created for consumers on the go. It offers 500+ financial and lifestyle products, all at one place. At Finserv MARKETS, we understand that every individual is different. And that’s why we have invested in creating a proposition – Offers You Value. A value proposition that ensures you get offers which are tailor made for you. We also offer an amazing product range and unique set of online offers across Loans, Insurance, Investment, Payments and an exclusive EMI store. Be it in helping you achieve your financial life goals or offering you the latest gadgets, we strive to offer what you are looking for. From simple and fast loan application processes to seamless and hassle-free claim-settlements, from no cost EMIs to 4 hours product delivery, we work towards fulfilling all your personal and financial needs. What’s more! Now enjoy the same benefits in just one click with our Finserv MARKETS App.