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Costly Purifiers & Fancy Masks: Cost of Living in a Polluted City

Shut your windows, invest in a heavy duty respirator and stay indoors if you can afford to do so.

5 min read
Costly Purifiers & Fancy Masks: Cost of Living in a Polluted City
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Winter is here. And so is the seasonal smog. You know you can almost smell the toxic grey haze that will take over the skies.

As pollution levels deteriorate in the National Capital Region (NCR), health experts have warned that continuous exposure to polluted air can cause severe health issues.

The WHO states that 4.3 million people a year in India die from the exposure to household air pollution, which is among the highest in the world.

As per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), a more comprehensive picture of air pollution in Delhi-NCR is likely to be available only in January 2018, when 20 new monitoring stations become operational in areas of Haryana bordering the capital.

So here’s our coping strategy for what's to come. Because, let’s face it, with no political will, the 10 million people of Delhi are pretty much stuck and have to deal with the problem themselves.

Disclaimer: Not everyone will be able to afford the solutions – clean air in Delhi-like conditions requires a lot of money.


Investing In a Heavy Duty Respirator

It might feel like a real low wearing a mask to be able to breathe, but trust me, you’re better off with a mask than without it. So wear the damn thing!
(Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

Right now, I’m nudging you to throw away your Rs 5 disposable, surgical face mask. It does zilch to protect you from pollution particles. You need to buy a more sophisticated respirator, something which comes with an active carbon filter layer and sticks well on your face, has a valve which opens and shuts as you exhale and inhale.

Try Vogmask, 3M, N95 or N99 masks. These codes tell you the particle filter class – so, a N-95 respirator will filter out 95 percent of particulate matter (PM2.5), while a N-99 respirator filters 99 percent of particulate matter.

All these masks will cost you around between Rs 70 to Rs 400, and are readily available online as well as stores in the NCR.

Installing Air Purifiers

If you can afford to install and bear the electrical cost of running these big, bulky devices, then go for a Phillips, Eureka Forbes, Camfil or Blueair ones. Air purifiers work like vacuum cleaners, only they suck the fine, dangerous particles from the air.

Approximately one purifier costs between Rs 10,000 to Rs 75,000, and you will have to install it in every room of your house. It’s kinda pointless to sleep in clean air in your bedroom, and inhale toxic fumes through the day in your living area.

Don’t lose heart, or an organ or two for clean air. The Rs 3,500 Jugaad Air Purifier is an effective, cheap, frugal, no glam or glitz solution in the market.

This system is just a HEPA-filter and a fan, because if you break it down to the basics, that is all there is to an air filter. The company has sold more than 60,000 units in over 16 countries, including India, in the last two years.
(Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

Buying Air-Cleaning Plants

The Weeping Fig, Peace Lily, Devil’s Ivy, Asparagus Fern, Flamingo Flower – there’s quite a bit of science-backed research to prove these indoor plants cleanse the toxic air, but for them to purify the air completely, there has to be one plant per 10 meter square space. That’s quite a lot of green! So you can keep 5 to 6 large sized pots, even if they reduce 50% of the pollutants, that’s a lot less damage to your lungs.

Happy nursery shopping!

Taking a Pollu-cation!

As pollution levels rise, consider taking a pollu-cation to somewhere cleaner and greener, where you can be outdoors and not worry about exploding your lungs.

That said, it’s obviously not feasible for everyone living in Delhi’s smoggy greys to flee the city. The final solution for this unlivable condition lies with the policymakers.

It can cost you anywhere from Rs 75,000 - Rs 1,50,000.


If you feel it is getting too much for your pocket, here are a few ways that require more commitment, less money:

It’s Apocalyptic So No Exercising, Not Even Walks

Those pictures you see of people braving the thick smog of nearly zero visibility, but still continuing with their morning jog? That’s not being fitness conscious, that’s being stupid.
(Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

The more active you are outdoors, the more pollution you breathe in. The damage which pollution can do to your body is much worse than the benefits of exercise. Once the smog settles in, slow down and skip all forms of exercises till the air quality doesn’t improve. Children and elderly should especially watch out!

Indoor air pollution is often five times worse than outdoor pollution, and the air purifier market in India has grown from almost nothing to over Rs 150 crore in the last few years.
(Photo: Rahul Gupta/The Quint)

Don’t Take Your Kids Out For a Stroll If It’s Smoggy

Shutting down of kindergartens and primary schools on heavy pollution days is one of the steps China takes to keep the kids safe. Such a policy is also needed in Delhi.
(Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

Children breathe at a higher rate than adults, absorb more chemicals than grown-ups, and the toxins stay in their body for longer. Lungs are developing till the age of 18, and developing organs are much more susceptible to long-term damage from pollution.

So keep the kids tucked in at home in alarming weather conditions, but if they have to go, no matter how strange they feel about masks, make them wear one to school.


Don’t Step Out In the Night

Courtesy a phenomenon called ‘inversion’, when the temperature is the coldest, pollutants get trapped, causing the highest levels of toxicity in the air. Mostly, the minimum temperatures hit at some point in the night. Don’t venture out.

Eat Your Broccoli, It Cleanses Your Lungs

In Ayurveda, tulsi is known to counteract the effects of pollution.
(Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

A study done by the reputed Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that eating broccoli regularly for just three months detoxifies the lungs of some airborne pollutants, and may provide a frugal way to lessen the long-term dangerous risks of air pollution.

Then there are other things like citrus fruits, tulsi tablets, ginger tea which boost immunity and keep you healthy.

Also Read: Gasping Yet? Skip Your Morning Jogs If You Want to Keep Breathing

(Breathe In, Breathe Out: Are you finding it tough to breathe polluted air? Join hands with FIT to find #PollutionKaSolution. Send in your suggestions to or WhatsApp @ +919999008335)

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