Air pollution is a global crisis that has been identified as one of the major health concerns by the World Health Organisation. The impact of air pollution on human health is far-reaching, with chronic diseases such as asthma and lung cancer being linked to poor air quality.
Moreover, air pollution not only affects physical health but also has a significant impact on mental well-being and productivity in educational or work settings.
Dr. Akashdeep Singh Arora, a Consultant Pulmonologist at Healthway Hospital, explains the impact of air pollution on chronic diseases such as asthma and cancer.
“Air pollution primarily impacts lung cancer patients. Asthma, on the other hand, is a condition that affects the airways, making them more sensitive to triggers, which can include ingested, touched, or inhaled substances. In cases where inhaled pollutants act as a trigger for asthma, air pollution can worsen asthma triggers,” he says.
To mitigate the effects of air pollution, Dr. Arora recommends using good quality respirator masks for protection. Besides physical health, exposure to air pollution can also affect mental health, including mood, cognitive function, and psychological well-being, thereby reducing productivity in educational or work settings.
Supriya Phadnis, Assistant Professor, Healthcare Management at Goa Institute of Management (GIM), suggests using sustainable, environment-friendly products such as whiteboards instead of chalkboards and planting trees around educational institutes to create awareness.
Air pollution can have a significant impact on the products we consume, where numerous products are sourced from distant locations that take longer to reach their destination, resulting in an increase in carbon footprints that have harmful impacts on air quality. Siddharth Savkur, CEO of Kamaxi Group, believes that sustainable practices can be adopted to reduce this impact.
“Modernisation led to the fad of consuming products from across the world, which is detrimental not only to the planet but, often, also to one’s health. One must take a closer look at the produce available locally in one’s region to encourage sustainable living. In most parts of the world, there is a vast range of local produce that has been consumed for hundreds of years. Also, we should patronise local farmers and suppliers so that more entrepreneurs are encouraged to enter the space,” said Savkur, who’s Kamaxi Group runs one of the state’s leading culinary institutes, Kamaxi College of Culinary Arts.
Best practices can be implemented in food production and restaurant operations to mitigate the impacts of air pollution on food safety, quality, and sustainability, such as managing waste properly.
Prahlad Sukhtankar, Goa Chapter Head of National Restaurant Association of India, emphasises the importance of proper waste disposal, including cooking oils, cleaning chemicals and other toxic substances.
Moreover, many restaurants have signed up for Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO), a Food Safety and Standards Authority of India initiative, which uses discarded oils for energy generation.
To reduce air pollution and protect our health, it is crucial to adopt practices such as using N95 respiratory masks, implementing sustainable practices in restaurants, like energy-efficient measures and sourcing local food. Raising awareness about sustainability in work and educational settings can also contribute to building a culture of sustainability.