How Delhiites are Planning to Cope as Air Quality to Dip Further

With Diwali gone and incidents of stubble farming rising, Delhi’s air quality has plunged to the ‘severe’ level, impacting the health of elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions, while many are also making travel plans to escape the city’s worst air pollution around this time of the year.

Nearly 7 in 10 families have someone experiencing the impact of poor air quality. According to a survey conducted by LocalCircles, 70% respondents have one or more family members or they themselves are experiencing some health issue due to the poor air quality. Out of the 9,123 respondents, 30% indicated elderly parents or grandparents at home were already suffering, while school-going children in 10% of the families are feeling unwell, 20% respondents are themselves affected due to their health conditions; there are another 10% respondents who indicated that they were not feeling well though they have no pre-existing medical conditions. Only 30% of the respondents said they and their family are facing no health issues due to poor air quality in the Delhi NCR.

So, what are the measures that the families will take as the air quality is likely to deteriorate further? Nearly 9% indicated that they will use anti-pollution masks; 21% said they will use air purifiers at home while 14% are planning to take more of immunity boosting foods, according to the survey.

Interestingly, despite 2022 being the eighth year of toxic air quality, only 1 in 3 households have an air purifier and majority will rely just on a mask or some immunity boosting foods or both. The masks as an anti-pollution measure was used by a small percentage of people till Covid but since the pandemic, many now have a mask and they are likely to use it.

While most families have found coping mechanisms at home, others are planning to escape the city’s toxic air in the coming days. The survey pointed out that 27% of the 8,425 respondents want to get away from Delhi while 55% said they have “no plans to leave Delhi-NCR in the next three weeks”. The survey data shows that of the 27% who want to travel out of Delhi, 18% are planning a week-long trip and 9% are thinking of a getaway for a few days.

Despite the claims made by the authorities that pollution is reducing every year, the reality is that the air quality in Delhi-NCR is in the severe category, and it is a matter of just a few days before it turns hazardous. The severe category means the air quality may cause respiratory illness even on healthy people and serious impacts on people with heart or lung disease.

Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) was reported 364 on Monday morning, with dip in the minimum temperature at 15 Degree Celsius. The Centre’s air quality panel has already banned the construction and demolition activities in Delhi-NCR.

The share of farm fires in Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution rose to 26% on Sunday, the highest this year. The Indian Agricultural Research Institute reported 1,761 stubble burning cases in Punjab on Sunday and 1,898 on Saturday – the highest so far this season.

(With inputs from PTI)

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