Delhi & NCR is enveloped in smog post Diwali. This year has been the worst Diwali in terms of air pollution in 4 years. There has been an increase in pollution 9 time the average. The pollution levels has crossed permissible limits in many Metros and tier 2 cities post Diwali. Blame it on Diwali firecrackers, burning of paddy stubble in nearby states, vehicular pollution, industrial pollution and others, Delhi has never fared well on permissible limits of air quality index. The situation is aggravating during the time when corona pandemic is still beyond control. Surge in CORONA cases is being directly linked to increased air pollution in National Capital & elsewhere. Stepping outside to breathe in dust and pollutants laden smog is dangerous for health more than ever.
Now a thick envelope of toxic SMOG covers specially Delhi, the worst hit city in India Air Quality Index (AQI) turned to severe category. Delhi has topped again in the list of most polluted cities in the world. Other cities also woke up to worst air quality post Diwali. Check the crazy PM2.5 post Diwali concentrations in Delhi, where the normal is 60 only.
Every year the story keeps repeating but people still continue to use Firecrackers on Diwali to celebrate. Many NGOs and other organizations create awareness and campaigns to educate people of the after effects of Diwali pollution when already the pollution levels are out of control at this time of year. Still, few refrain from firecracker bursting. Religious reasons were weighed in by many and the ban on firecrackers was flouted this Diwali. The setting off of firecrackers seemed fun, right for the supporters of sparkly Diwali, but what they will breathe in next few days is almost equivalent to poison.
What is Smog?
Smog is “The intense form of Air Pollution: A Mix of Smoke & Fog”.
The smog is a mix of very harmful pollutants lying low to the ground. When the human induced or natural pollutants are released into the air and mixes with fog. The smog is a mix of chemicals such as Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulphur Dioxide (SOx), Carbon Monoxide (CO), and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), but the two main components of smog are Particulate Matter (PM) and ground-level Ozone (O3). The smog decreases the visibility in an area, have several environmental impacts and also causes hazardous effects on human health.
How Can Smog Harm Your Health?
Smog during the time of pandemic is not at all good. Smog can affect not only the lungs but also the heart. Common ill effects of smog on health are shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and discomfort while breathing. These lead to reduced lung capacity and can cut down life expectancy of people breathing in the Delhi smog.
Particulate Matter can cause plaque in the arteries, which causes them to harden and eventually lead to a heart attack.
Nitrogen Oxides, irritates lungs and lowers resistance to infection. During the Corona time, it may make weak immunity people more prone to COVID-19 virus.
Sulfur dioxide lead to eye irritation and itching, shortness of breath and impaired lung functioning.
Carbon Monoxide CO affects health badly. Its high concentrations are very deadly. It binds with hemoglobin in the blood, reducing its ability to carry oxygen and thereby starves vital tissues of oxygen. It weakens the immunity considerably.
Ozone O3 is an intense irritant and dangerous health threat. It can damage the eyes and nose, along with the throat and lungs.
Doctors has suggested and advised people with breathing issues to move to places or change location where there’s enough fresh air and normal AQI.
Why Trees Cannot Help much in Delhi?
Ozone can damage plant cells and inhibit their growth. Particulate matter smothers plants limiting their exposure to the sun and inhibiting their ability to take in carbon dioxide, therefore, decreasing its photosynthesis capabilities. Hence, smog may lower down the functioning in leaves and reduce uptake of Carbon dioxide and release of Oxygen.
Air Quality Index (AQI)
Delhi AQI was 435 (Severe Category) where Mumbai had 148 a day after Diwali. Mumbaikar's adhered to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation guidelines as per sources. Delhites however did not heed the ban much which led to severe dip in AQI. See the AQI levels taken on Diwali Night.
Are you Safe Indoors?
A survey was taken by local circles and the results were shocking. 73 % household’s members were found to have Pollution related ailments. Many residents of Delhi were reaching out doctors and hospitals for diagnosis and treatment for smog related issues. Outdoor pollution levels are scary and the polluted air has also crept in indoors and added to indoor air pollution. Research have already shown that we mainly spend 90% time indoors and, covid had added up and extended our indoor stays more than ever. Indoor pollution is 2-5 times more than outdoors. Staying indoors for prolonged period when fresh air outdoors is already laden with dust particles and toxic pollutants can also be unhealthy. Also during winters humidity levels can go low indoors and low humidity can give way to many allergic respiratory and skin troubles.
Pick Plants for Better Air Quality Indoors & Good Health
Although the damage has been done and government is taking its measures to get hold of the smog emergency situation, we would like to help you and your loved ones to breathe better at least indoors. There has been a considerable increase in sales of air purifiers in NCR, but how about getting some live natural green plants that will purify the indoor air of your homes and office naturally.
Get rid of stale air and say good bye to indoor air pollution with Air Purifying Plants. Having green air purifying plants is a long-term and environment-friendly option. Did you know that plants naturally purify air indoors, with a process called phyto-remediation? Having more plants inside your living space, at least 12 to 15 medium sized or small plants can help.
These plants include, Parlour Palm, Peace Lilies, Spider Plants, Syngoniums, Ferns, Philodendrons, Aglaonemas or Chinese Evergreens, Money Plants both golden and variegated, Anthuriums, Aloeveras, Rubber Plants, Red -edged Dracenas, Zamias and Areca Palms. NASA has recommended all these plants as best air purifying plants in their Clean Air Study and other researches. Many other universities and organizations have also conducted research which say that plants not only help in air purification in closed spaces but also relieves stress and enhances work productivity. Yes, of course when you have plants at home or workplace you have your personal fresh supply of oxygen. There are plants which emit high Oxygen content too.
Plants improve the indoor air quality by removing harmful toxic pollutants. Plants also stabilize humidity levels. Peace Lily, Fern and Money plant are known as effective air purifying plants and are also good humidifiers. There is a general agreement amongst scientists that plants improve the indoor environment. We should make sure we’re as protected as possible from all the toxic pollutants and dust particles.
Dust levels can be reduced by up to 20 per cent when plants are introduced in the surroundings. CO2 levels can be reduced by 50%. Plants also help in reduction of dust, bacteria and mold, which would otherwise be inhaled by us. Plants reduce the toxic pollutants from plastics, paint, furniture, carpets, and certain cleaning products significantly. With correct placement of plants, the indoor air maintains higher humidity (up to 20%). By reducing the dry air caused by air conditioning and increasing humidity, illnesses such as asthma, tickly coughs can be completely avoided.
Bring home few plants, and get all their benefits. They will reduce carbon dioxide levels, pollutant such as benzene and nitrogen dioxide, airborne dust levels and increase humidity. Breathe better and fresh indoors!
Author: Vandana Chaudhary
Know What You are Breathing Indoors? And Its Not Good at All: https://www.rollingnature.com/blogs/news/know-what-you-are-breathing-indoors
Benefits of indoor Plants: http://www.rollingnature.com/the-benefits-of-indoor-plants
Humidify with indoor plants this Winter:
What's Trending - Best Air Purifying Plants for Indoors