Air Pollution – the Tax on City Life

air pollution Air pollution is making news again and it will get more coverage as the winter progresses. It generally starts around Diwali every year. Diwali the festival of lights – sadly, has been reduced to a festival of smoke and noise!

Air Pollution Making News

Particulate Matter tied to rise in Arthritis Symptoms

Recent study from AIIMS, New Delhi reports heavy correlation between rise of particulate-matter PM25 and PM10 to autoimmunity and therefore symptoms of arthritis.

Fumes from Burning Garbage are 1000x more toxic

This news report simply quantifies that which should be a common sense. Burning of garbage – dry tree-leaves mixed with plastic, paper and other garbage – produces toxins such that an up-close exposure of 1 minute is enough to equal the whole day’s worth of exposure to polluted air!

Respiratory infections and breathing problems are a natural consequence of these.

Air Pollution tied to Strokes & Other Lifestyle Diseases

The air-pollutants seem to be responsible for hardening of arteries, and therefore strokes – as per this report.

Common Sense to the Rescue

Daily Commute

Traffic jams, apart from burning garbage, are year-round source of air pollution. Some points to consider:
  • You are more susceptible on a two-wheeler or in open vehicles like auto-rickshaw.
  • Pollutants being heavier than air settle down close to ground – so exposure is somewhat less in a bus than being in an auto-rickshaw or two-wheeler.
  • Cars with closed windows and air-recirculated are definitely better at a traffic-junctions – but do not forget to take-in fresh clean air by rolling down the windows!
  • Cars’ AC air-intake is again at a lower height – and mostly directly behind the exhaust of the vehicle ahead! So air-quality from the windows is preferable!
If car is not an option then activated-charcoal pollution-masks are a must. Make sure it fits your face well, covering mouth and nose, and does not let in air from the sides.

Everyday Life

  • For short distances, walking is always much more efficient – you can avoid traffic-jam, parking-woes and the related exposure to pollution – and get some health benefits!
  • Online shopping and food-ordering can help avoid unnecessary outdoor excursions! The time saved thereby is better used in exercising outdoors or, at least, in cleaner surroundings.
  • Home air purifiers are becoming common-place. If your residence is particularly exposed to vehicular air-pollution then it is a serious option to consider.
  • In the long run, the only sustainable solution is to detoxify your body everyday through exercise, hydration and eating right!
Pollution is inevitable in city-environment – through food, water, soil, air – our bodies are stressed by microbes and other inorganic agents. This is the invisible tax that we pay for living in the city. It is important to realize this reality and make systematic efforts to keep healthy.