Mumbai, In view of the worsening air quality in several cities, the Maharashtra health department on Monday issued an advisory asking people to avoid outdoor morning and late evening walks, running, jogging and physical exercise when the AQI turns “poor to severe”.

It said sentinel surveillance of acute illnesses have been attributed to air pollution in 17 cities across the state.

Children below the age of five, old persons, pregnant women and those with pre-existing respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses are at high risk, the state health department said.

Patients with underlying medical conditions such as chronic pulmonary or cardiovascular problems should be more careful in order to avoid exposure to air pollution, it added.

As per the SAFAR air monitoring system of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, the Air Quality Index was moderate, it said.

The advisory said those with poor nutritional status and poor housing conditions, those using fossil fuels for cooking, heating and lighting purposes are at high risk, and so are those with prolonged exposure such as traffic policemen, traffic volunteers, construction workers, road sweepers, rickshaw pullers, auto-rickshaw drivers, roadside vendors etc.

“On days with poor to severe AQI, avoid outdoor morning and late evening walks, run, jog and physical exercise. Do not open external doors and windows during morning and late evening hours. May ventilate if necessary between 12noon to 4pm,” the advisory, dated November 5, said.

On surveillance and monitoring, it has asked authorities to document and maintain statistics of illnesses known to be related to air pollution and their mortality.

It has also asked for the identification of hot spots by AQI levels and density of vulnerable population and ensuring adequate access for them to essential health care services.

It said the ‘Health Action Plan’ for districts and cities will include documentation of month-wise average air pollution levels, and vulnerable population.

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