Beyond Air Purifiers: 8 Low-Tech Ways to Minimise Air Pollution's Harmful Effects

Beyond Air Purifiers: 8 Low-Tech Ways to Minimise Air Pollution's Harmful Effects
  • Use public transport or carpools, and avoid leaving at peak traffic time
  • Use air filtering plants and humidifiers indoors
  • When going somewhere, make sure you are wearing an air mask

The post-Diwali smog combined with crop burning in neighbouring states continues to wreak havoc on the air quality in Delhi and many other cities across north India. While the situation is particularly worse right now, air pollution is a year-round problem across almost all the major cities in India. The number of gadgets like air purifiers you can use to combat this menace are increasing, but there is a lot more you can do to safeguard yourself from the effects of pollutants in your surroundings.

Whether you are at work, outside or home, there are a number of low-tech ways to make sure you are protected from air pollution round the clock. Take a look at 8 ways to save yourself from air pollution without using technology.

1. Public transport or carpools
Vehicular pollution and traffic congestion together account for a significant share of the pollutants in the air. To reduce this, it is best that you avoid using a personal vehicle to travel on a daily basis, and instead either use public transport, or start carpooling with people going in the same direction.

2. Avoid commuting at peak traffic time
Avoid travelling in the city during rush hour, to ensure that you are not surrounded by the peak vehicular exhaust of the day. Instead, travel a little before the peak traffic time. If possible, try to take back-roads to your destination, which are usually less polluted than major roads. Try to travel through areas that are filled with greenery.

3. Air masks
Masks are an effective means of protecting yourself from air pollution. The cheap ones without air filters can be purchased for around Rs. 200, but these are not considered to be very effective. Instead, go for the N95 air masks priced around Rs. 700-800, which have a filtration layer to remove the particulate matter from the air your breathe in.

There are more expensive options too, going up to Rs. 2,000, which come with an extra filtration layer to combat bacteria. Then there are specialised masks for athletes that have an additional breathing valve which allows you to breathe easily even while masked - very useful for when you're doing something that involves exertion.

4. Quit smoking
This one is about as obvious as it can be. Cigarette smoke is said to release as many as 4,000 harmful chemicals, and is a major cause of pollution in the air. You should ideally not smoke, but if you do, make sure you do not smoke inside the house. The second-hand smoke people that around you inhale is almost as bad as the smoke you inhale because of your cigarette. If you don't smoke but people around you do, then make sure they do not smoke inside the house.

5. Open the windows, vacuum furniture
The air quality indoors can actually be much worse than that outdoors according to studies and experts recommend that you should open the windows of your rooms to let the fresh air in as it reduces the levels of CO2 inside. If you're experiencing smoggy conditions - like in Delhi right now - then do this early, before the traffic has a chance to make things worse.

This won't help in reducing the amount of dust that's already in your surroundings, which is why you must vacuum the upholstery and furniture in your house at least once a week.

6. Air filtering plants
You can also use air filtering plants to reduce toxic gases, which cause itching, frequent cold, allergies and burning sensation in the eyes, in your surroundings. Some of the air filtering plants you can get in India are Aloe Vera, Peace Lily, Golden Pothos, English Ivy, and Warneck Dracaena.


7. Maintain humidity at 30-50 percent
Keeping your living areas dry is important to make sure that the humidity does not give rise to mould and mildew. Use a dehumidifier to make sure that humidity inside your house is always less than 60 percent; ideally, you should keep the humidity levels between 30 percent and 50 percent, but some people find moisture levels under 40 percent to be too dry.

8. Go out in the rain
Rainfall is effective in reducing air pollution as it pulls down even fine particulate matter with it and washes it away. The air is much cleaner after a rain than it is otherwise, so make sure you take a walk outside right after a shower.


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