THE AIR WE BREATHE
•Molecules in the air include primarily nitrogen and oxygen as well as water, carbon dioxide, ozone, and many other compounds in trace amounts - some of these are naturally occurring while others the result of human activity.
•In addition to gases, the atmosphere contains extras such as smoke, dust, acid droplets, and pollen.
•The composition of the atmosphere changes constantly and depends on the season, weather, time of day etc.
WHAT CAUSES AIR POLLUTION?
Most of the air pollution results from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, natural gas, and petrol/ diesel to produce electricity and power our vehicles.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a good indicator of how much fossil fuel is burned and how much of other pollutants are emitted as a result.
AIR POLLUTANTS are of three types
Bacteria and Viruses
COMMON AIR POLLUTANTS ARE
•Ground Level Ozone
PARTICULATE MATTER (PM)
These are caused by -
Chemical Reactions, fuel combustion, farming (ploughing, field burning), road construction/ building activities
Exposure to Particulate Matter causes - Respiratory and CardioVascular problems, irritation of eyes nose and throat, headache, nausea, lung cancer, heart disease etc
PM 2.5 VERSUS PM 10
Fine particle- PM 2.5 Micrometre– PM 2.5 or smaller – can only be seen by an Electron Microscope, These are produced by all types of Combustion – vehicles, power plants, wood burning, forest fires,some industrial processes
•Coarse dust Particles – 2.5 to 10 Micrometres –caused by crushing or grinding operations, dust from roads and construction
HOW BAD IS IT?
In WHO's 2014 report, 13 out of 20 most polluted cities were in India.
Delhi's annual mean PM 2.5 levels are three times the annual national standard and 12 times the WHO standard of 10 micro grams per cubic metres, highlighting how the city's air quality continues to be very poor.
INDOOR AIR - The indoor air pollution levels may often be worse than those outside if there is no proper ventilation. People often don't realise this and it is, therefore, more dangerous. One may not be safe even in an air-conditioned house because polluting particulate matter remain trapped.
HOW DO AIR PURIFIERS WORK?
Air purifiers pull in polluted air from the room and let the air go through various filters which will clean the air - this air is then circulated back into the room. Make sure to get good air filters, specially those with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
When to Install / Use the Air Purifier ?- The WHO safe limit for PM 2.5 is an AQI (Air Quality Index) of 10 or less ugm/cu m. For vulnerable groups I would recommend to use air purifiers if your indoor AQI crosses 50. I personally use this level as a prompt to improve my indoor air quality.
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