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Air quality-health issues: NBRO prescribes no. of precautions

Air quality-health issues: NBRO prescribes no. of precautions

20 Feb 2024 | BY Sumudu Chamara

  • Urges to refrain from labour-intensive outdoor activities/burning garbage, don face masks 

Although the deteriorating air quality issue seen in several parts of the island earlier this year (2024) has alleviated and poses no significant threat at the moment, according to the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO), the public can take certain measures to reduce the health-related impacts of air quality-based issues.

Noting this, NBRO Senior Scientist and Coordinator – Air Quality, Noise and Vibrations, H.D. Sarath Premasiri, told The Daily Morning that it is advisable for those with health issues to refrain from engaging in outdoor activities, especially labour-intensive work. Others are recommended to refrain from burning garbage. When questioned if wearing face masks can be recommended in this case, he said that wearing N-95 face masks can be expected to provide some protection, while the same levels of protection cannot be expected from other types of masks.

Earlier this year, quoting the NBRO, media reports raised concerns about the deteriorating air quality in several districts, including Colombo, Kandy, and Jaffna. The NBRO had further advised to take measures to protect health, and paid particular attention to persons with respiratory or cardiac conditions, the elderly, and children.

The Health Ministry's Environmental Health Unit was unreachable to further discuss the potential health risks and recommended precautions regarding air quality issues.

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