The Indian city of New Delhi is currently experiencing severe levels of air pollution. Contributory factors include firecrackers ignited during Diwali celebrations, the seasonal, but often prohibited, burning of stubble, and severe adverse weather.
In response to the current situation, the Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) declared a public health emergency.
In addition to mandating measures that must be taken to combat the pollution in Delhi, the authorities advises everyone to minimise their exposure to the high levels of pollution, including restricting physical exercise outside, until levels of pollution reduce.
Travellers are advised to take sensible precautions to minimise exposure to high levels of air pollution by:
- restricting time spent outside
- restricting physical exercise outside
- travellers are also advised to take notice of any health advisories published by the Indian authorities
Public Health England (PHE) has advised that a properly fitted face mask may provide some protection. While masks should be available in India, travellers may choose to buy their own before travelling to India. PHE recommend masks that comply with EU standards P2 or P3 or the US standards N95 or N98. Travellers should ensure that their mask fits, and that they know how to wear it properly.
Air pollution can affect everyone, including healthy people. Short-term exposure, over hours or days, to elevated levels of air pollution may result in worsening or aggravation of pre-existing respiratory, heart or circulatory system illnesses. Long-term exposure, over years or lifetime, reduces life expectancy by increasing deaths from heart or circulatory and respiratory conditions and from lung cancer.
Travellers with pre-existing conditions that might make them more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and are travelling to areas where air pollution levels are high, should discuss travel plans with their healthcare provider, follow precautions to minimise exposure, and carry adequate supplies of any regular medication.
Source: Travel Health Pro, 6 November 2019