breathe - in,

Tox - in


The time of the year has come and knocked the doors again, this time it has broken down a lot of records. The Daily newspapers are flooded with pictures of paddy fields in Punjab being scorched by farmers, with the smoke drifting over Delhi-NCR. The Delhi government, on the other hand, has implemented the odd-even car rationing scheme (in which cars with odd number plates ply on odd numeric days and those with even number plates on the other) to reduce traffic pollution. And the luckless inhabitants of the city are rushing to shopping malls and market to buy masks for their faces when they are outin the smog and air purifiers for their houses and cars.


Days when Delhi winter foretells chilly cool days with bright blue skies and streaked sunshine in which we could all relax (this annual ritual now, this kind of thing) is long over. These days the arrival of winter is just all about increase in no. of respiratory ailments, even as we hide in our homes, with the air purifiers working through the day and checking the pollutant levels anxiously on the counter screen to see if it’s making any difference to the air in the room.  As per medical experts going for a walk or a run is a pretty bad idea. Especially children are at risk, due to underdeveloped lungs that are unable to cope with the pollutants in the air. The things stand still and given lack of concern of government agencies there’s hardly a chance that the things will improve. We have been hearing for years now that the farmers of Punjab will be given a special allowance to compensate them for not burning their stubble, but using farm equipment to get the fields ready for the second sowing. But even though the sums involved are far from astronomical, neither the state nor the central government seems interested to dig into its pockets and hustle up  the sum. To be fair, Delhi government has undertaken some small steps to reduce air pollution. Construction is brought to a halt during the months is which air pollution is at severe levels, banning entry of trucks, shutting down schools are taken

under the Graded Response Action Plan. Industrial units have been asked to relocate or even shut down when the air quality gets very bad. And then, as mentioned before, there is the odd-even rationing scheme, that is pulled out every year around this time.

          Does this makes any difference? Frankly, it’s hard to tell. Government sources insisted that the air  quality would be even worse if they did not implement these measures and later this week the AQI (Air Quality Index) entered the 'severe plus' or 'emergency" category.

0-50                  Good

51-100               Satisfactory

101-200            Moderate

201-300           Poor

301-400           Very poor

401-500           Severe

> 500                  Severe-plus

Air Quality Index

The AQI takes into account five chief pollutants -- particulate matter with a diameter less than 10 micrometres (PM10), PM2.5 ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO). The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and health concerns.

While sceptics scoff that this is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound and hoping that it will block the blood flow. So all those who can afford; time and money – to get away from Delhi NCR during this period, are doing. Some escape to their holiday homes in the ountains or some beach destination. But all are not lucky enough to have such escape routes vailable to them. So what can people who are stuck in Delhi through these months do to deal with the pollution as they go about their daily lives?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Invest in good air purifiers for every room of your house (basically with HEAP filters). It will be expensive but well worth it in terms of what you save by way of health care. Remember to vacuum clean them every week and change filters every year (or even sooner depending on how filthy they get). Keep the doors shut when you are running them, but don’t forget to air out the house once or twice a day or you will be breathing in stale air all day.

  • Since plants are the best natural air purifiers. So buy a few pots of spider plant, aloe vera, ficus, bamboo plant (there are plenty of options). Google it before heading out to the nursery in order to get options. Place them in the rooms in which you spend the most time.

  • Give your guard a space heater so he doesn’t have to light a little fire to keep him warm during those long winter nights. Use electric heaters rather than ‘sigris’ when you are entertaining, don’t light any bonfires to keep your self warm.

  • If your job allows it, spend as much time indoors as possible.however its not that pratical but if your boss is willing, then work out of home for at least part of the week, so that your exposure to pollutants is limited. Don’t go for a walk or jog in the park. Head to the gym or just invest in a treadmill/cross trainer at home so that you can work out without venturing out.

  • To reduce traffic-based air pollution and congestion use car pools, bicycles, public transport like metro, railway or buses. Citizens too must shed hang-ups over social status and try to travel by public transport proactively.

Give your guard a space heater so he doesn’t have to light a little fire to keep him warm during those long winter nights.


Now arrival of winter about a spike in rates of respiratory ailments.