What is PM2.5
PM2.5 is particulate matter less than 2.5µ (microns) in diameter. PM2.5 is referred to as fine particle and is roughly 1/30th the average width of a human hair. Because of the fine size, it can lodge deeply into lungs and pose a great health risk. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion activities (motor vehicles, power plants, wood burning, etc.) and certain industrial processes.
Why is ozone harmful?
A colourless unstable toxic gas with a pungent odour and powerful oxidizing properties, formed from oxygen by electrical discharges or ultraviolet light. It differs from normal oxygen (O2) in having three atoms in its molecule (O3).
Ozone is a powerful oxidant that can irritate the air ways causing coughing, a burning sensation, wheezing and shortness of breath and it can aggravate asthma and other lung diseases.
When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation. Ozone may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections. People vary widely in their susceptibility to ozone. Healthy people, as well as those with respiratory difficulty, can experience breathing problems when exposed to ozone. Exercise during exposure to ozone causes a greater amount of ozone to be inhaled, and increases the risk of harmful respiratory effects. Recovery from the harmful effects can occur following short-term exposure to low levels of ozone, but health effects may become more damaging and recovery less certain at higher levels or from longer exposures (US EPA, 1996a, 1996b).
Will my immunity come down if I breathe clean air for a few hours?
Our respiratory system and digestive system are very different. If we get used to “RO Water” and then drink tap water, there is a high likelihood that we will fall ill. However, with air pollution, there are 3 kinds of pollutants – particle pollutants, gaseous pollutants and microbiological pollutants. The first two are harmful to the human body and have a cumulative effect on the human body. The third pollutant is something that if we are exposed to in small quantities, it may actually increase our immunity. We do not want to be living in a completely sterile environment because that will lead to lower immunity. Hence, targeting the microbiological pollutants only is not the best strategy when it comes to air pollution.
We strongly believe that if we are breathing healthy air inside our homes even for 8-10 hours, we are giving enough time for our lungs to recuperate from the damage that outside air and confined spaces without the air purifiers do. As an individual, we cannot do much to control the outside air we breathe in but we can definitely control the air quality within our homes and breathe in healthy air. Is smoking ten cigarettes better than five? The answer is no. Hence, breathing pollution free air for 8 hours has to better than breathing polluted air for 24 hours a day.
What is Smog?
Smog is a combination of the words smoke and fog. We can distinguish two separate types of smog, summer smog and winter smog.
Summer smog, mainly consists of ozone. It is a brown, oxidizing fog. The causes of photochemical smog are nitrogen oxides and VOC, which stem from traffic and industries.
Winter smog is also referred to as acid smog; it mainly consists of foggy elements. Winter smog is found in areas where vertical dispersion of air pollutants is not possible. Usually temperatures decrease during the day in high air layers. The reason for poor visibility in Northern India in winter is not only smoke. It is mist pollution and smoke that people mistake for fog.
How do I know if I am at risk?
People with diabetes, lung disease (such as chronic bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, lung cancer) or heart disease (such as angina, a history of heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat) are more sensitive to air pollution.
Seniors are at higher risk because of weakening of the heart, lungs and immune system and increased likelihood of health problems such as heart and lung disease.
Children are also more vulnerable to air pollution; they have less-developed respiratory and defense systems. Children also spend more time outdoors being physically active, which can increase their exposure to air pollution.And relative to body weight, infants and children breathe in much more air as compared to an adult.
People participating in sports or strenuous work outdoors breathe more deeply and rapidly, allowing more air pollution to enter their lungs. They may experience symptoms like eye, nose or throat irritation, cough or difficulty breathing when air pollution levels are high.
What is the purpose of Special Air Quality Statements and Smog and Air Health Advisories?
The purpose of these alerts is to advise people with breathing difficulties to avoid unnecessary exposure to smog. They also inform industries that are major sources of pollution that they should consider, if possible, reducing their emissions. Additionally, they solicit everyone’s help in lessening the problem by curtailing activities that produce smog.
What is the difference between urban outdoor air pollution and indoor air pollution?
Most air pollution is man-made and derives from poor combustion of fossil or biomass fuels (e.g. exhaust fumes from cars, furnaces or wood stoves).
Urban outdoor air pollution refers to the air pollution experienced by populations living in and around urban areas (i.e. cities).
Indoor air pollution refers to the pollutants found indoors. The main cause of indoor air pollution is inefficient fuel combustion from rudimentary technologies used for cooking, heating and lighting. There are also natural indoor air pollutants, like radon, and chemical pollutants from building materials and cleaning products that also impact health.