Masks are better, research organisation plans to analyse options
The scarves worn by many two-wheeler riders in the city or even pieces of cloth wrapped around the nose are ineffective in fighting air pollution around us. A Pune based institute, the Chest Research Foundation, revealed the startling fact and added that it would soon commission a study on the masks that could be used to check the health hazard and determine its efficiency.
“The air quality we breathe in the state, including that of the city, is unhealthy as the number of pollutants and particulates are beyond the standards mentioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” said Sundeep Salvi, the director of the foundation.
Salvi said that India has the second highest number of cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the world. “The ambient air pollution caused by construction work, dust and other weather conditions scores over vehicular pollution, household pollution and the pollution caused by smoking tobacco,” he added.
The director said hence it becomes very important to take steps like preventive measures and treatment to address the air pollution concerns that are increasing daily.
Salvi revealed that a study would start soon to understand which masks work best for particular air quality and conditions. He said that a normal mask is about 40 per cent more efficient than scarves/cloth used to cover the face.
“Masks offer much better protection against bad air quality. However, there are a number of models and companies producing them. It can become a difficult task to select the right mask for an individual,” he said.
Salvi said that study would include understanding different components of these masks including the filters, the layers that go in filtering the different layers of pollution and the comfortable aspect of it.
The research would also include details on the capacity of each mask to filter the amount of particulate matter in the air. “Some masks have many filters but this may make it difficult to breathe when the air is heavy. Whereas some masks are able to filter between 95 per cent to 99 per cent of particulate matter,” he said.
Salvi told Mirrorthat in such cases, the cost factor plays a determining role in how much one wants to spend and effectiveness needed or health concerns that need to be addressed.
“Hence the study becomes important. Moreover, air filters and purifiers installed indoors and polluted junctions in various parts of India are a reality. Treating then also becomes a point of concern,” he added.
“People should learn to own the fact that they are equally responsible to the bad air quality they breathe as others surrounding them. Measures like massive plantation, devising innovative technologies that absorb pollutants in the air and reducing the emissions should be taken by the people,” he said.
Gufran Beig, senior scientist at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), said, “The air quality of Pune is much better compared to Mumbai or New Delhi. However, there are preventive measures that need to be taken.”
Beig said that the measures will have to be taken especially when the particulate matter (PM) levels go beyond 60-3. The PM10 levels in Pune were 61on Sunday and expected to reach 74 in the next three days.
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