My name is Raghu, and I have lived all my life in the megacity of Bengaluru. Since childhood, my body has been sensitive to cold weather. I have a relatively mild form of asthma that used to affect me once or twice a year for about a week. Sometimes, my mother would stay up all night just to ensure that I was comfortable. The most susceptible seasons for me were either monsoon or winter. Although this health issue was never life-threatening and didn't affect me a lot of the times, it took a toll on my self-confidence. I was often teased by friends for being sensitive. The precise word they used was "delicate." Yes. It hurt me. But, I took the high road. I neither argued with them nor set out to prove anything. I did not share my health struggles with anyone, for fear of being taunted. I was wary of even telling my close friends with whom I played regularly.
From November, I was strictly forbidden my favourite foods, like curd rice, oranges, ice- creams, or sodas. I still remember my diet became stricter as we approached the month of March, during annual school exams. My favourite moments in life were the last day of school when I savoured a Pepsi, Coke, or an ice-cream.
Things changed dramatically during my high school days when I went to a famous chest specialist who advised me to use an inhaler if I experienced an oncoming asthmatic attack. With that, my health improved significantly, and I felt immediate relief. However, I never took the inhaler in front of my friends and kept it a secret for fear of being judged. It was usual for me to miss school for a week or two during every academic year because of my health.
From 2001, when I started attending college, the pollution in Bengaluru was on a steady rise. As a consequence, I developed Sinusitis. Since I rode a motorbike, and in those days, there was no compulsory helmet rule, I was inhaling smoke from vehicles and insane levels of dust while riding in the city. To compound matters further, Bengaluru has a lot of allergic pollen, which increased my respiratory problems, making things worse for me. It was like a perfect storm of bad air, causing low immunity leading to health issues. Little wonder that I fell sick frequently. My health took a significant hit when three houses were being constructed simultaneously in our neighbourhood. Spores of cement dust lingered in the air, and other pollutants clung to our surroundings, adding to my health woes. And, since my illness worsened during monsoon and winter, I developed this idea in my head that - colder the climate, the more susceptible I was to ill health. However, to my amazement, the universe threw some unexpected curveballs that completely changed my life.
In 2009, in my 25th year, my father asked me to attend a filter exhibition in Germany in September. I was excited, as well as nervous. My main worry was the cold climate in Europe. Besides, it was my first trip outside South India which is known for it's warm climate. Friends assured me that Germany's weather would not be too cold at that time of the year. Nevertheless, I over-prepared for extreme weather because of my health concerns. When I arrived at Frankfurt Airport, it was 15 degrees centigrade. It was way too cold for a South Indian. Cold in Bengaluru is traditionally 21 degrees centigrade. Therefore, 15 degrees was testing my comfort zone.
I was surprised, however, to see myself adapting well to the weather in Germany. In the following days, a cold wave swept through Europe, and the temperatures dropped to a chilly 3 degrees. Plus, it was snowing; I was filled with mixed emotions and nervous energy. I was excited to see snowfall since I had never before seen snow. Plus, I had not used the inhaler even once. The weather remained cold for the rest of my stay, and, I saw sunshine only in the last two days of our trip.
Did I enjoy my first ever visit to a foreign country? The honest answer is, No. I was bogged down with extreme fear. I lived in anticipation of something dire to occur at any moment. I succumbed to my fear which literally seized all my cheer. Specifically, I was afraid of two things: a) I would have to undergo hospitalisation in a strange country and b) I would let many people down if my trip was not a success. All was for nought, however. I returned home, happy and in sound health. The only three redeeming features of my trip were: a) the clean air, b) the snow and, c) sightseeing.
Taking a page from the playbook of my successful German trip, and a major streak of confidence, I set off on an 11-day trek to the Himalayas in May of 2010. (Sarpass). Once again, I fared enormously well, until the day we were expected to ascend the summit. Waves of anxiety rolled through me. We were at an altitude of 11,500 feet above sea level, and we got up at midnight in freezing temperatures to tackle the summit. We ate our breakfast at 4:30am. I could barely eat, and later I puked whatever I had eaten. I reported this to the camp leader who I thought would bar me from the trek, and, part of me wanted this to happen, but surprisingly he told me to continue on. At a steep gradient of 1300 feet, I was panting every two steps. I took comfort in seeing others in a similar position. The air was thin and cold. I was very, very nervous. If anything happened to me, I would have had to walk down to lower altitudes with a local villager. At least in Germany, an ambulance could be summoned for rescue and had decent hospitals, too. But, here all those amenities were a luxury.
After that steep incline, I was fortunate to be next to a guide who told me that this is the highest point on the trek. My happiness knew no bounds; I had survived and made it to the summit, once again, in sound health. I sat quietly, next to the trek path and celebrated my success by eating a packed lunch, since I had trekked on an empty stomach. It was snowing, and the temperature reached zero degrees. I crossed the pass in high spirits, full of energy, even helping people who were struggling. I still remember that day when we reached our destination camp, I was bubbling with joy and vitality. I couldn't wipe the smile from my face. I was elated beyond measure.
What does this have to with Air quality?
For the first 25 years of my life, I railed against my frailties. While the reality was that my body was more sensitive than the average person. I learnt that I could heal and cure my health condition to a considerable extent. I did not take medicines either in the Himalayas or in Germany, and this got me thinking. There is more to air than we think there is. Breathing clean air heals and energises the body.
How many of us have felt relaxed and refreshed while being outdoors in low pollution? I know I do.
It is a well-known fact that we can survive without food for days and even without water for hours. But, we cannot survive without air for minutes. Everyday, We drink 2 to 4 litres of water and breathe a whopping 15,000 litres of air.
Breathing fresh air is not only a privilege but a fundamental right for all humans. Don't you think so?
Back in the '90s there were one or two students with similar preconditions as mine in a classroom of 50. Today, there are around ten or more such cases and increasing at an exponential rate every year. This is alarming and dangerous for society to thrive and grow.
I was born with this ailment. Often, my charged emotions of stress trigger an asthmatic attack. Unfortunately, in today's world, kids are developing pollution related illnesses by the dozens if not more. Even though, homes are spacious and well-furnished today, health still remains a major concern. This is an indication of the levels of pollution inside the homes we are living in. The bottom line is that pollution levels are not improving. If anything they are deteriorating rapidly. If the outside air pollution is dangerously high, indoor air pollution is probably higher. And the worrying part is we are living 90% of our lives indoors. Be it, in the office, school, home or car. If you think you live in a quiet, clean, and green neighbourhood and inhale good quality air? Think again.
What I'm about to share will reveal the extent of the poor air quality we breathe. With all the modern-day furnishings, materials used in interiors and often unscientific ventilation, you breathe air, which is more polluted and dangerous than the air outside. You can only find this out by measuring specific parameters. The indoor air in most of the houses, offices, and cars is terrible, and you are practically bad air every minute. Often it takes years for the consequences of breathing this polluted air to reveal itself.
I'd like to share an interesting interaction with a Yoga instructor. I still remember that conversation, which shifted my perspective in dramatic ways. Seeing my overweight body, he asked me whether I have diabetes. I said I have no diabetes symptoms, and I most likely won't have the disease. I had a medical check-up of my body later, which proved I was healthy. What he told me shook me to the core. 'You are developing diabetes, symptoms of diabetes will slowly start one day. He urged me to practise yoga regularly to stop its rapid onset.' It took me a few days to realise that the instructor was correct in his observation. The symptoms start only when body conditions cross a threshold with the lifestyle remaining the same. It is the same case with air pollution; symptoms develop later when we cross a threshold. Another important point to note is that with air pollution, we are not always aware of the extent of pollution in the air we are inhaling. Unfortunately, the nose is a weak organ to sense micro particles. Most of the damage done to the body is done through micro particles from the range 0.3 microns to 3 microns (thickness of your hair is around 50 microns). PM2.5 (particulate matter pollutants with a size of 0.3 microns to 3 microns) can get down into the lungs' deepest (alveolar) portions where gas exchange occurs between the air and your bloodstream. The alveolar part of the lungs has no efficient means of removing PM2.5. When particulates are water-soluble, they can pass directly into the bloodstream.
In contrast, non-water-soluble particulates remain in the alveolar portion of the lungs. Particulates within the lungs may cause lung disease. In our well-furnished house, the chemicals in the furniture, paints, etc. often dissolve in the air, causing nausea, headaches, asthma, respiratory irritation, and allergies. Carbon dioxide levels in the air we breathe largely determine our energy levels. If carbon dioxide exceeds 1000 ppm, which is often the case in an air-conditioned space, we develop headaches and fatigue. At 1400 ppm- our brains cannot think clearly. More concentration of Carbon dioxide leads to further debilitation. But we are clueless about the levels of all these parameters. It is often the lack of awareness that further aggravates the problems.
You can improve your health dramatically by installing air purifiers in your bedroom, car, and office. This air purifier will help you inhale pure and fresh air. Is this a magic cure? By installing an air purifier, can we become healthier? What about yoga, exercise, nutrition?
An air purifier is not a magic cure. You can get straightforward nutritional advice, exercise, drink quality water, do pranayama, and other breathing exercises. However, nobody is highlighting that one invisible thing that is causing major health issues and that is- the quality of the air you breathe.
We, at Pioneer Filters, are the experts who can help you to enhance the quality of your breathing and your overall health. (Please see if this is what you want to say)
Now just imagine this. You wake up in the morning with full energy. Your loved ones are healthy and energetic, and your productivity improves. More importantly, you are less prone to developing a sickness. That is more precious than a pot of gold in our world today. It's true what they say, health IS indeed wealth!
Is this a dream? Hell no – it is absolutely possible. You can breathe clean air by installing purifiers in your bedroom where your healing takes place with sound sleep and in cars, and in your office.
YOU CANNOT MISS INVESTING IN THIS FUNDAMENTAL NEED IN LIFE. I sincerely urge you to invest in a good air purifier.
And, just investing in a good purifier won't solve the problem, entirely. It has to be done scientifically. That's where we come in. We will use our expertise in measuring the various parameters and suggesting a solution based on our findings. I am a mechanical engineer and a certified accredited professional in RESET (a body for indoor air quality) and WELL (an organisation for Indoor Environmental Quality and Health). I also worked in the Filter industry for 13 years, which is invaluable for providing the right solution.
I will end by saying, "Clean air is a fundamental right you and I deserve."