The Delhi Police is planning to provide masks to all its personnel on field duty. Recently, the police floated a tender to purchase around 15,000 nose masks.
These masks, police said, will be first given to officers posted in police control room vans that have to be on the roads in Delhi round-the-clock. Presently, traffic police personnel and some in PCR vans have similar anti-pollution masks.
Sources said that in a meeting in December last year, the top brass of the force had decided that every officer on the field should have a mask. The mask was also allowed to be part of the police uniform. Senior police officials said the masks will be provided to the personnel within a month.
The police are trying to buy N99 masks, which are washable and certified by a government approved laboratory. According to the specifications listed by the police, the masks should have a carbon filter and a two-way exhale valve. The masks will be replaced every two months, depending on the pollution levels.
A constable who works in a PCR van said, “We are on the road for 8 hours a day. Three officers works in 8-hour shifts. Our job is such that we have to be outdoors and not in office. We were worried about our safety. A few of us got masks in December last year. Senior officers have assured us that every cop in the field will get one.”
The city has been battling poor pollution levels and in 2016, the volume of ultra-fine particulates PM 2.5 and PM 10 fell five times the annual safe standards in some parts of Delhi. The Environment Pollution Control Authority recently warned in its draft comprehensive action plan that secondary particulate matter, particles that are born out of the primary source air pollutants, pose as an additional threat to Delhi’s air. Secondary particulates form nearly 25% of Delhi’s PM 2.5 load.
The Global Burden of Diseases estimates for 2017 have shown that early deaths related to PM 2.5 in India are the second highest in the world.