As toxic smog chokes Delhi, people rush to buy masks and air purifiers

People seen wearing pollution masks while they commute to their work places in New Delhi
Irrespective of what doctors have to say about the efficiency of masks in dealing with the high level of air pollution, people moving around with masks was a common sight in the city today.

Following advisories issued by schools to send their wards with masks, children queued up at bus stops with masks on and were spotted on roads wearing them as they boarded their respective vehicles.

People were also seen wearing masks outside metro stations.

"There are no air purifiers in the metro but at least we will be saved from the haze inside. But it is very difficult travelling to the metro station as well considering the really bad air quality and visibility," Preeti Bharti, who was wearing a mask as she travelled to Nirman Vihar metro station, said.

The toxic haze hanging over Delhi today thickened, leading to near zero visibility at many places, even as air quality slid further and touched calamitous levels.

The air quality index of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had a score of 487 on a scale of 500, indicating 'severe' levels of pollution, which can affect even healthy people and "seriously impact" those with existing diseases.

"We read in news reports that masks are not effective but what option do we have. We had to send our son to school who is appearing for board exams this year so we got masks for him," Simran Taneja, a housewife, said.

Asserting that there is not enough data on the efficacy of masks, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria had yesterday said, "masks are not very helpful as a lot of air can get inside from the sides. Also children and elderly find them very uncomfortable to use."

"Moreover, there is not much evidence about their efficacy," he said, adding the use of nasal filters or air purifiers can provide short-term relief only.

People also took to social media posting their pictures with masks on.

Delhi Traffic police personnel were given 5,000 masks last month in view of the worsening air quality.

"We have advised them to wear masks at all times when they are on the field," a senior police official said.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) had yesterday ordered the issuance of over 9,000 face masks for its personnel deployed to guard the IGI Airport, the Delhi Metro and other government ministries and installations here.

SAD-BJP MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa, AAP MLA Kapil Mishra and former Delhi Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely also distributed masks at Connaught Place area today.

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