Should We Have a Mask Mandate for Air Pollution? – Nirvana Being
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Should We Have a Mask Mandate for Air Pollution?

by Nirvana Being on October 27, 2022

Based on data, air pollution was responsible for 17 lac deaths in India in 2020, while COVID was responsible for 1.5 lac deaths.  And air pollution is a constant in India – the only slight respite is during the monsoon months.

Air pollution is directly linked to morbidity and mortality.  Your actual risk of adverse effects depends on your current health status, the pollutant type and concentration, and the length of your exposure to the polluted air.

 Short-Term Exposure to Particulate Pollution Can:

  • Aggravate lung disease causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis
  • Increase susceptibility to respiratory infections
  • Cause heart attacks and arrhythmias in people with heart disease

Even If You Are Healthy, You May Experience Temporary Symptoms, Such as:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

High Air Pollution Levels Can Cause Immediate Health Problems Including: 

  • Aggravated cardiovascular and respiratory illness
  • Added stress to heart and lungs, which must work harder to supply the body with oxygen
  • Damaged cells in the respiratory system

Long-Term Exposure to Polluted Air Can Have Permanent Health Effects Such as:

  • Accelerated aging of the lungs
  • Loss of lung capacity and decreased lung function
  • Development of diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and possibly cancer
  • Shortened life span

Those Most Susceptible to Severe Health Problems from Air Pollution Are:

  • Individuals with heart disease, coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure
  • Individuals with lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pregnant women
  • Outdoor workers
  • Older adults and the elderly
  • Children under age 14
  • Athletes who exercise vigorously outdoors

It is estimated that the Years of Life Lost(YLL) from living and breathing in Delhi is 9-12 years.

While our Health Departments hope for natural causes to clear our air, I strongly recommend a mask mandate once the AQI exceeds 200.  All outdoor sporting/cardiovascular activity must cease unless it’s with recommended specialized sports masks (with low resistance).  Parents please use your discretion to mask your child at lower AQI levels.

Let’s follow the science and put health and safety first!


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