FEATURE2 October 2019

Behind the mask

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Asia Pacific Features Healthcare Impact

Polluted air is a huge problem in India, but there is a cultural reluctance to wear face masks, as research from Ipsos Mori and Reckitt Benckiser found.


As collective concern for our environment gathers apace, we have never been so conscious of the indelible footprint that we are leaving on our planet. But how often do we pause to reflect on our own longevity?

Air pollution is an invisible killer and has been described as causing a ‘silent genocide’ around the world – the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that it kills more than seven million people globally each year (either as a result of exposure to outdoor air pollution or from household exposure to smoke from dirty cooking stoves and fuels). Of the top 50 most polluted cities, 22 are in India and it’s estimated that 40% of children in Delhi are living with reduced lung capacity.

When the Air Quality Index (AQI) in London reaches 70, this is considered unacceptably high. In 2017, air pollution levels in Delhi hit an AQI of 800, which was – literally – off the scale.

Barriers to wearing masks