Experiencing breathing difficulties? If you are making a conscious effort to breathe as opposed to your normal breathing pattern then it could be related to the rising levels of air pollution in Delhi NCR. The Air Quality Index (AQI), that measures the quality of air, was recorded at 376 in Gurugram while in Delhi, it was recorded at 381, on voting day on May 12. Aided by summer dust storms that have increased in the city in the last two days, there has been an increase in the pollution levels and the recurrence of smog.
Smog, that appears as a thick haze with a brownish tint, is mostly caused by high concentrations of nitrogen oxides. India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences published a research paper in October 2018 attributing almost 41 per cent of PM2.5 air pollution in Delhi to vehicular emissions, 21.5 per cent to dust and 18 per cent to industries. Largely the result of industrial and road traffic pollution, nitrogen oxides react with hydrocarbons in sunlight to form ozone, which can then be mixed with particles to form the thick haze.
Why should you worry about summer smog?
As per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it can be dangerous to breathe in too much smog. Smog contains a pollutant called ozone, and elevated ozone levels can have a variety of negative effects on your lungs. A combination of construction dust, open burning, incinerators, auto exhaust and other pollutants comprises smog that can have serious repercussions.
It can cause or aggravate health problems such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory problems as well as eye irritation and reduced resistance to colds and lung infections.
Anyone who engages in strenuous outdoor activity, from jogging to manual labour, is prone to smog-related health hazards. Since physical activity causes people to breathe faster and more deeply, it exposes their lungs to more ozone and other pollutants.
As per experts, four groups of people are particularly sensitive to ozone and other air pollutants in smog. These are children who spend a lot of time outdoors – especially children with asthma, healthy adults who exercise outdoors or spend a lot of time in the sun, people with allergies or sensitive to changes in the environment, and elderly people.
How to protect yourself
* It is good to stay up to date with the AQI levels and take adequate precautions. People should wear or carry quality air masks with them at all times. National, state, and local air agencies have tools available that can help you check up on the ozone levels in a particular region and understand the negative health effects of smog.
* Try limiting your outdoor activities if ozone levels are unhealthy, as elevated ozone levels increase the chances of being affected.
* Keep your activities gentler on smoggy days as vigorous activity levels can increase your chances of experiencing respiratory problems.