New Delhi: Air pollution level rose to dangerous marks in the national capital, prompting the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to declare a public health emergency in Delhi onTuesday. The IMA has also suggested closing down of schools and urged people not to venture out due to excessive pollution.
The lethal effects of pollution are seen across the world, including India. Recently, a study showed that pollution claimed nine million lives globally in 2015 - one in six of all deaths worldwide. And air pollution is by far the largest contributor to early death, accounting for 6.5 million fatalities in the same year. Read: Air pollution hits 'severe' levels in Delhi - Five best masks you can buy in India
The report published in the medical journal The Lancet also showed that most pollution-related deaths occur in India with as many as 2.5 million people succumbing to diseases associated with pollution in the country in that year.
Prolonged exposure to high levels of air pollution can affect human respiratory and inflammatory systems and lead to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. Air pollution can also make asthma symptoms worse and trigger attacks. Read: Five effective home remedies to treat asthma
As pollution levels deteriorate in Delhi-National Capital Region, we bring you a few tips that can help minimise air pollution in your home and reduce the risk for various health problems caused by toxic pollutants:
Ventilate your home
Adequate ventilation is important to get enough supply of fresh air. Try to open windows a bit when it's not too cold or pollen counts are not too high.
Use air purifier
Consider using an air purifier to remove indoor pollutants – air purifiers with HEPA filters can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns, which is far smaller than the diameter of your hair. Make sure that the air filter is cleaned every three months
Ban or avoid smoking inside the house to reduce health risks associated with smoking. The problem is that cigarette smoke and other irritants can build up indoors, causing allergic reactions, asthma, and lung cancer. In fact, indoor air pollution is now considered a serious source of respiratory diseases.
Install exhaust fans
Use exhaust fans in the kitchen to remove cooking fumes and steam, which can be harmful to your health. A bathroom exhaust fan will also help clear the steam and prevent mold that may cause a variety of health effects. Thus, installing exhaust fans in your home will help improve indoor air quality, for both your health and belongings. Read: Air pollution can cause stroke, warn neurologists
Adopt no-shoes policy
While doormats can help reduce dirt, germs and other outdoor pollutants from getting inside, it's always better to adopt a 'shoes-off' policy in your home. Dirt and toxins aside, researchers found 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe, which can lead to a number of infections including meningitis, diarrheal disease, pneumonia, and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract and wounds.
If you have to use carpets at your home, try to limit your use of it as it can trap pollutants such as dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and other dirt and dust. Wash carpets regularly.
Get heating appliances checked
Make sure that your furnaces, space heaters and wood-burning stoves are serviced and operated according to manufacturers specifications. Also, change air filters and clean out your ducts and chimneys regularly to improve air quality and mitigate the health effects of indoor air pollutants.