Pollution: what are the risks and how can you protect yourself?

The main risk of a pollution peak is the damage to the health of the population. As these periods of risk become more frequent, it has become essential to learn what to do.
A significant risk to your health

A "pollution peak" is when a certain threshold of polluting particles has been detected in the ambient air. This may be due to traffic or chemical fumes, from factories for example.

This is not without risk: the lungs, heart and brain are particularly receptive organs to polluting particles, especially in infants, foetuses and the elderly.

How to act during a pollution peak

  • Avoid walks in areas that are very busy with traffic (city centres or near roads). Choose parks, the countryside or wooded areas instead, especially if you have small children.
  • Contrary to popular belief, wearing a mask during a pollution peak is not helpful because it will not filter fine particles. Truly effective masks, known as anti-pollution masks, can be worn but can be uncomfortable and inconvenient to breathe.
  • Do not exercise outdoors.
  • Limit the use of motor vehicles so as not to aggravate the situation, and to avoid getting into too much contact with the polluting particles emitted by the engines.
  • If you have no choice, adopt an economical mode of driving while respecting the exceptional speed limits put in place in these types of situation. Do not open the windows and turn off the ignition as soon as you stop.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Limit the use of chemicals (e.g. paint or household products), which are also very harmful.
  • You can ventilate your home, it is advisable even. But it is best to focus on the hours when the air is the least polluted, i.e. very early or very late in the day.
  • Some symptoms can include difficulty in breathing, coughing, sore throat and irritated eyes. Consult your doctor at the first sign of these.

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