70% NCR residents have a family member suffering due to bad air, finds survey
The air quality index (AQI) in all NCR cities has been in the ”very poor” category for the past five consecutive days
As pollution levels in National Capital Region (NCR) cities continue to peak since the past few days, a survey of about 26,000 respondents from Noida, Ghaziabad, Delhi, Faridabad and Gurugram has found that 70% residents have some family member struggling on account of bad air.
About 72% of those surveyed by Noida-based LocalCircles, a community social media platform, said they are taking preventive measures such as using air purifiers and consuming immunity boosting foods, while around 27% said they have planned vacations over the next three weeks to escape the toxic air.
The air quality index (AQI) in all NCR cities has been in the ”very poor” category for the past five consecutive days. On Monday, the AQI was 392 in Delhi, 363 in Faridabad, 353 in Ghaziabad, 352 in Greater Noida, 376 in Gurugram and 374 in Noida, all in the ”very poor” category, and just short of reaching the ”severe” category.
As per the air quality forecast from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the air quality is likely to remain in the “severe” or “very poor” categories over the next six days.
The survey asked respondents three questions to gauge the impact of pollution on residents over the past one month.
The first question attempted to understand the impact on people and read, “who all in your family is currently struggling due to bad air quality in the Delhi NCR?”
To that, 30% responded ”elderly parents/ grandparents”, while 10% said school going children. About 20% said they themselves were impacted owing to their health conditions. Another 10% respondents said they were not feeling well even though they had no pre-existing conditions.
The remaining 30% respondents said neither they nor their family were facing health issues due to poor air quality, the survey said.
The second question attempted to understand the measures families were taking to cope with the toxic air and about 72% said they are taking some preventive measures. About 9% said they will use anti-pollution masks, 21% said they will use air purifiers at home, and 14% are planning to increase consumption of immunity boosting foods.
Many others opted for a combination of these measures while 14% indicated using all three measures. There were, however, 7% respondents who said they “do not plan to do anything as the toxic air quality doesn’t bother them”.
Another 14% said they ”do not plan to do anything” as they can’t afford all these measures.
Many families who have senior citizens or very young children are trying to get away from Delhi-NCR to escape the pollution. To the third question -- “Given that the air quality has deteriorated in Delhi NCR and is likely to be bad in the next three weeks, do you have travel plans during this period” -- 27% said they plan to go away for a while. About 18% are as yet undecided while 55% have no plans to leave Delhi-NCR.
“The rise in pollution and poor air quality is a reflection of the collective failure of several arms of the government at the state as well as the central level to address the root cause of pollution. Enforcement on the ground is missing and all efforts are last minute, whereas they are needed from earlier in the year. About 27% in the survey said they plan to leave the city for some time during the next three weeks to escape the toxic air and that is another indicator that people have no confidence in the authorities to manage the situation,” said Sachin Taparia, founder of LocalCircles.
According to Dr Rahul Sharma, additional director of pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Noida, the emergency wings of most hospitals are already seeing patients suffering from breathing difficulties and other related ailments.
“Asthma and COPD patients are seeing exacerbated symptoms over the past few days. Even those who do not have any previous medical condition are reporting sleep disturbances or skin and eye irritation due to the poor air quality,” said Dr Sharma.
He said the most effective prevention is wearing a mask with a valve. People should also avoid strenuous exercise, especially early morning and evening, when pollution levels are high. Indoor air purifying plants are also helpful if they are kept in good quantity. He said those with previous conditions should immediately visit a doctor if they experience any troubling symptom.
“Cases have increased in the past few days due to pollution and weather changes and many with cold and breathing difficulties are coming in. One of the best preventive measures is to wear an anti-pollution mask,” said Dr Yatendra Singh, medical superintendent of CHC Bhangel.
Officials from the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) say due to the geographical location of NCR cities, they are impacted the most by stubble burning owing to wind direction and air pressure.
“The local contributors to pollution in Noida and Greater Noida are mainly construction activities and transporting waste material without covering. As we are in Stage 3 of the graded response action plan (Grap), we are trying to minimise the local sources of pollution with strict enforcement,” sad Praveen Kumar, regional officer, UPPCB Noida.