How to breathe easy in hazardous pollution
According to 2016, Environmental Performance Index (EPI) over a quarter of the world’s population breathes heavily polluted air. Here are some tips to breathe easy and fresh during smog times. These are tips that I have put together a combat smog strategy, but before that let me give you an idea of just how bad it is.
Especially with the onset of winter the residents of mega-metropolises like New Delhi and breathe in air that violates air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organization. This increases the risk of lung cancer and respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
This, of course, is a year average, however, every winter cities like Beijing and Delhi the concentration of ultra-fine particles of less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5s) rises up to the 800 to 1000 levels where 0 to 50 is the healthy limit.
It’s something that people in the regions affected by extreme pollution have learnt to live with. I have learnt over the years to defend myself against smog as best I can. the Smart Smog solutions as I call them are ways to keep breathing as clean as possible on smog days.
Smart Smog solutions 1 Stay inside
I have found the best way to beat the smog is to stay indoors. Do not open the doors and windows especially in the morning as the concentration of PM 2.5 particles is at its highest at this time due to a lack of surface winds. In fact, I use a good air-conditioner with a high end, 3M Electrostatic Air Purifying Filter. It may not remove all the pollutants but certainly makes the difference. These are easily available online and I have found that this filter does its job just as well as a new-fangled air purifier
Smart Smog solutions 2 Mask up and move
If you have to leave home, most of us do mask up and move. This year people are queuing up outside stores to buy masks and purifiers to safeguard themselves from the ill-effects of levels of air pollution present in the ever-present smog.
Please do not buy a simple surgical mask they do not filter PM2.5 particulate matter, the most harmful of the lot. A recent study published in qz.com by the IIS found that most Indians and Chinese either buy the wrong types of masks or do not know how to use them in the right way
Look for the term N-95 or N-99 on the packaging of the masks and respirators. A mask with this grading is able to filter out 95% to 99% of particulate matter (PM2.5)
Choose the size that is right for you and buy one with valves only if you are doing strenuous exercise like jogging. Make sure that the mask completely covers your nose and mouth as any unfiltered air that enters the body defeats the purpose of the respirator.
A small note of caution, in the end, any filters personal or room versions are cleanable as they become clogged quickly in a smoggy area so follow instructions and wash and clean the filters regularly so as to keep them efficient.
Smart Smog solutions 3 Steam inhalations
I strongly recommend taking steam inhalations at least twice a day for 5 minutes at a stretch during the time air pollutants are at a high level. If you can add 5-10 drops of eucalyptus oil or a drop of peppermint oil in your steamer. This should be done for five minutes twice a day.
Smart Smog solutions 4 Diet destroys pollutants
The two organs of our body that fight tooth and nail to neutralize the damage caused by air pollution are our lungs and liver,
I drink lots of warm water with infusions of lemon, ginger, Tulsi. They help in cleansing the liver by flushing out toxins and will prevent the damage to the body
The surprise veggie in the fight against pollution is to Include Broccoli in your diet. A recent study by scientists of the International Cancer research group led by professor Thomas Kensler of the and Johns Hopkins University have after experiments found that Broccoli in sprouts helps to excrete toxins associated with ozone air pollution. Now that is good news for me because I like the green veggie in any form.
Also, I eat a small amount of Jaggery every day, this helps fight pollution as the raw form of sugar is high in Antioxidants. Choose these foods carefully as a smart smog solution
Smart Smog solutions 5 Yoga Breathing Exercises
These are a number of exercises that help you detox and assist your body in its fight against hazardous air pollutants. Two of them that I strongly recommend is Bhastrika and Kapalbhati. Practicing them every day increases oxygen flow in the body. It boosts energy helps cleanse the respiratory system and can even improve digestion. Only choose what time of the day you do your yoga breathing. Preferably practice your breathing exercises
The idea of all my the Smart Smog solutions is to protect you against one of the curses of our time killer pollution