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Face masks not a long-term solution to Delhi's air quality, say experts

Priyanka Sharma | Updated: Nov 01, 2019 18:07 IST

By Priyanka Sharma
New Delhi [India], Nov 1 (ANI): Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday distributed face masks to school students as part of efforts to tackle air pollution but doctors said that the masks were not a solution to the problem of Delhi's worsening air quality and may not be effective in protecting children.
Delhi government intends to distribute 50 lakh face masks to private and government school students to tackle air pollution.
Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman of Chest Surgery Department at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said that face mask is effective when it is tightly fitted to the mouth and no air can pass from its sides. "Kids will never keep a tight face mask for a long time on their mouths. We have to think of long-term solution, otherwise the consequences are going to be very, very bad," Dr Kumar told ANI.
"Pollution can only be curbed if vehicular pollution is checked, construction and stubble burning is stopped," he added.
"On Friday, the national capital witnessed a thick smog with pollution touching AQI level of more than 400 which is in the severe category. If this continues for long, it will have very, very, very bad consequences, " he added.
Dr Vikas Maurya, Head of Respiratory Medicine Department at Fortis Hospital, said it is very difficult to get children used to masks.
"Distributing masks to children is not a wise idea and it very difficult to make children use to it. Basically, face mask has to fit tightly and any random face mask cannot be given to children. They have to made aware of hazards of air pollution. The school authorities should reduce outdoor activities of children," he said.
Doctors have said that there has been a 30 per cent rise in patients with complaints of chest disorder, sneezing, cough, irritation of eyes and viral infection in the past week.

Dr GC Khilnani, Chairman of Pulmonary Department at PSRI Hospital said that only N-95 face mask is effective as it has a good grip on the mouth.
"Wearing it for a longer time is not easy for children. Elderly patients, children, pregnant mothers and even normal healthy individuals should not step outside in the early morning which pollution levels are very high. Also patients with pre-existing diseases are more vulnerable to catch the infection so they should be extra cautious," he said. (ANI)

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