What is the issue of Pollution in Delhi, India ?
As winters descend on Northern India, so does the curse of air pollution. Already among highly polluted cities in the world, this time of the year makes New Delhi and NCR the most polluted cities in terms of air pollution.
A host of conditions namely stubble burning in the nearby states of Haryana and Punjab, weather conditions which lead to very slow winds trapping pollutants, ever present pollution sources like traffic vehicles, diesel Gensets, construction activity, power plants, brick kilns, etc. are attributed to the severe rise in air pollution in Northern Indian region around national capital region.
What is AQI and why is it important ?
AQI (air quality index) is a yardstick that helps rate the air pollution level in any area. Ground level ozone, particle pollution also known as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and Nitrogen dioxide are the five major air pollutants that are measured to determine AQI.
Slabs for determining air quality are:
- Good : from 0 to 50
- Moderate : 51 to 100
- Unhealthy for sensitive groups : 101 to 150
- Unhealthy : 151 to 200
- Very Unhealthy : 201 to 300
- Hazardous : more than 301
What can we do to protect ourselves when going outdoor in pollution levels that are very severe?
Primary contribution to poor AQI in North India during winter season comes from particulate matter namely PM10 (diameter 10 microns or less) and PM2.5 (2.5 microns or less) which can enter deep into the lungs. While overall pollution management is a macro-level effort and has to be done by all of us, our own protection will also go a long way in preventing us from being impacted by the hazardous air around us. Air pollution masks are exactly what we require for the same. They are made for protecting us for from the particulate matter entering a respiratory system when we are exposed to such hi levels of pollution
Types of pollution masks
N95: This mask can filter up to 95% of the harmful PM2.5 particulate matter This is the basic start level pollution mask available. When buying this pollution mask look for models that provide separate exhalation passage via air valves so that there is no excess moisture and fogging near the eyes and nose bridge. These marks are also more or less resistant to oil and oil based pollutants.
The most popular N95 masks available on various ecommerce portals are:
- 3M 9332+ Aura Disposable Respirator Mask
- Dettol Anti Pollution Mask N95 Siti Shield
- Honeywell PM 2.5 Anti Pollution Foldable Face Mask with Easy Exhalation Valve
- 3M 9504 INV N95 Dust Pollution Mask
- Peesafe Anti Pollution Dust Mask N95
N99 and N100 masks : These pollution masks can filter particulate matter of PM2.5 up to 99% and 99.97% respectively. While N99 masks are easily available , the N100 are not very commonly used and hence are not readily sold. They are also more expensive and have a shorter life. Both of these are not resistant to oil or oil based pollutants. The most popular N99 masks available on various ecommerce portals are:
- 3M 9332 N99 Pollution Mask Aura
- Dettol Pollution Mask N99 Cambridge Reusable, Washable, Durable
- Grin Health Anti-Pollution Mask N99
- Usha Shriram Fresco N99 PM2.5 HEPA Anti Pollution Face Mask
- Venus V-1130 SLV FFP3 Respirator Mask
Ratings of pollution masks
P95 and R95 : P rated masks are resistant to oil based contaminants whereas R rated marks not. The R rated masks generally are suited for specific industrial use and hence are expensive.
Which Size of Pollution Mask to buy?
One of the important considerations when buying a pollution mask is the size. Most brands make these in sizes S, M and L. The S size is generally suitable for children and teenagers, whereas M size should suffice most of the people. For people with broad faces or those who are very tall and heavily built L size pollution masks are more suitable.
I would like to emphasise that this article does not endorse any particular brand or any particular type of mask. You are suggested to go through the literature of particular product carefully and select the mask you think is suitable for your requirement. You may also consult your physician or doctor for selecting the appropriate pollution mask.