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Ramp up pollution awareness: Health ministry to Delhi, its neighbours | Delhi News

Surveillance of air pollution-related illnesses, building a health workforce, and creating awareness of the ill effects of pollution are among measures suggested by the Director General of Health Services to Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and UP for dealing with the high pollution levels this time of the year.

Written last week, the letter advised measures that people could take to reduce their exposure, such as checking air quality indices before stepping out, avoiding routes with heavy vehicular congestion, and using cleaner cooking fuels.

“Vulnerable people should seek medical help when they first develop worsening of their illness or feel discomfort and symptoms due to poor air quality,” the letter said. The letter also asked states to increase awareness to curb stubble and waste burning, avoid firecrackers during festivities, and increase use of public transport instead of personal vehicles.

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Last month, Union Health Secretary Sudhanshu Pant had written to all states urging them to develop state and city-level action plans for climate change and to expand a network of sentinel hospitals that can keep track of pollution-related cases throughout the year. A similar sentinel network exists for illnesses such as flu and Covid.

The latest advisory by the health ministry focuses on health of school-going children, suggesting measures such as children encouraged to use school buses, car-pooling, and cleaner CNG and electric vehicles to reach school. It also suggests wet mopping of school floors before children come in and use of marker pens instead of chalk to reduce dust pollution.

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It suggests ensuring proper ventilation on good days but keeping windows closed when the air quality index levels are poor. The guidance also suggests avoiding any physical activity such as running, jogging or playing outdoors and suggests suspending school functions and events when the pollution levels are high.

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