Five ways to Protect the Elderly from Air Pollution in India

Air pollution is a major threat to the health and well-being of millions of Indians, especially the elderly. Here are some preventive measures that can help reduce the exposure and impact of air pollution.

Air pollution is a serious environmental and health problem that affects millions of people in India, especially the elderly. According to a Lancet study, nearly 1.67 million deaths and an estimated loss of USD 28.8 billion worth of output were India’s prices for worsening air pollution in 2019. Air pollution can cause or worsen various respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart attack, stroke, and atrial fibrillation⁸. Exposure to polluted air, specifically fine pollution particles (PM2.5), is also linked to an increased risk of type-2 diabetes³.

Air pollution tends to worsen during festive seasons, such as Diwali, when the extensive use of fireworks and firecrackers releases various harmful pollutants into the air, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter¹¹. These pollutants have adverse effects on both human health and the environment.

To prevent air pollution from harming us during festivals and other times of the year, several measures can be taken. Below we discuss five preventive tips that can help keep you and your elderly family members safe from air pollution.

  1. Stay indoors as much as possible. Try to limit your time outdoors, especially during peak pollution hours or when the air quality index (AQI) is high. Stay indoors in a well-ventilated area with closed doors and windows. Use air purifiers if available to remove pollutants from the indoor air⁷¹¹.
  2. Wear a high-quality mask whenever you need to go outside. N95 or N99 masks are effective in filtering out harmful pollutants from the air. Make sure the mask fits snugly on your face and covers your nose and mouth properly⁷¹¹.
  3. Avoid or reduce the use of firecrackers and fireworks. Firecrackers are a major contributor to air pollution during festivals. Minimise their use, or ideally avoid using them altogether to help reduce pollution levels. Opt for eco-friendly or noiseless firecrackers if you do decide to celebrate with them. These options produce less smoke and noise, minimising the impact on air quality¹¹.
  4. Use public transportation or carpool whenever possible. Reduce vehicular pollution by using public transportation or carpooling with friends and family whenever possible. This can help decrease the number of vehicles on the road and, consequently, pollution levels. You can also opt for electric or hybrid vehicles that are more fuel-efficient and produce less emissions[^10^] ¹¹.
  5. Plant trees or support afforestation initiatives. Trees act as natural filters and can help in improving air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Participate in tree planting initiatives or support organisations that focus on afforestation. You can also grow plants indoors that can purify the air, such as aloe vera, spider plant, snake plant, or peace lily[^10^] ¹¹.

By following these tips, you can protect yourself and your elderly family members from the harmful effects of air pollution and enjoy a healthier and happier life.

(1) Air pollution can harm hearts, lungs in elderly | News | Harvard T.H ….
(2) Air pollution may increase risk of type 2 diabetes, India study finds.
(3) Prevention Tips From Air Pollution To Stay Healthy This Festive Season.
(4) Health Effects of Air Pollution on Older Adults – AARP.
(5) How To Prevent Pollution | 25 Ways to Reduce Pollution – Consumer Notice.
(6) ICC World Cup 2023: England Players Resort To Inhalers For Tackling Alarming Pollution In India.
(7) England cricketers resort to inhalers for tackling alarming pollution in India.
(8) Air pollution in India – Wikipedia.
(9) Pollution in India – statistics & facts | Statista.
(10) Environmental issues in India – Wikipedia.
(11) Climate Change and the Health of Older Adults | US EPA.
(12) Actions You Can Take to Reduce Air Pollution – US EPA.
(13) 13 ways to save the Earth from pollution – National Geographic Kids.