With air purifiers to clean the air as you sleep, masks to filter impurities as you walk the streets and even rental cars outfitted with devices to ensure a healthy commute, the business of pollution is getting bigger with every breath you take.
As pollution levels rise and the air quality index ranges from poor' to severe' in the
Delhi-NCR region and several other parts of the country, the new business, an unheard of idea even five years ago, has come to flourish.
Warnings from NGOs, recommendations from courts and suggestions from experts have failed to effectively revive the air. Till that happens, those who can afford it are buying clean technology to breathe easy in their homes, offices and cars.
A cursory search on any online retailer throws up the range of option from Rs 300 for a bag of activated charcoal to Rs 1.5 lakh for a wi-fi-enabled smart air purifier.
And somewhere in the middle are the range of masks, the N95 mask, which is quite popular for tackling smog, to N100 mask that is more effective at dealing with very minute particles. Prices range from Rs 90 to Rs 5,500.Neha Dasgupta, a Delhi-based event coordinator, bought an air purifier in September this year to help her sinusitis that started about two years ago.
"It aggravates every time pollution levels are up. It's physically painful to even perform day to day tasks during such recurring episodes," Dasgupta said.
While she is uncertain about how effective it exactly is, she said the air definitely feels lighter".
Additionally, it keeps up a constant circulation of air which is very important in winters since the fans are usually off," she added.
Almost every electronics brand, including Panasonic, Philips, Honeywell and Kent, have launched air purifiers priced at about Rs 7,000 and upwards for the Indian market.
Panasonic India has seen a growth of 30 percent year-on-year in the purchase of air purifiers, said Rajneesh Sharma, business head, Personal Care Appliances & Air Purifiers of the company.
"Typically, the months of October and November register high sales. Given the alarming air pollution levels, we expect a 40 percent plus increase in sales in November,' Sharma said.
Delhi-NCR is the market leader in terms of sales but there is an increase in demand from other parts too, including the metros.Demand from tier 2 cities is also going up," Sharma said.
With concerns around air pollution growing, so is the competition in the market.Health and beauty brand Amway has forayed into the air purifier market too.
"It was natural for us to enter the air purifier market with our global expertise. In India, the segment is still at a nascent stage but holds a strong promise for growth with CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 23.2 percent till 2021," Sundip Shah, chief marketing officer, Amway India said.
Amway has been selling air treatment systems for over 13 years globally, he added.
While indoor purifiers claim to provide with clean air inside homes and offices, 'Eco Rent A Car' promises to offer their clients clean air as they travel.
Of course, it comes at a price -- Rs 500 per day in addition to the usual rent of the car.
With the air over Delhi becoming unbearable, we have come up with the innovative idea where a guest can opt for an air purifier inside a car. A lot of our business travellers come from abroad. It's easier for them to manage to get better air quality while they travel in our cars, said Aditya Loomba, joint managing director, Eco Rent a Car.
Amway's Atmosphere Drive, the first generation car air treatment system was launched in October this year and already generates sales of Rs 10 crore, said Shah.
"According to a recent study, commuters in metropolitan cities spend 1.5 hours more during peak traffic times... The air quality inside the car can be up to 15 times worse than the air outdoors. We recognise the need for an effective purifier for passenger vehicles among users," he said.
But air purifying systems are only a stop-gap situation for those who can afford it. And it could actually be making things worse, states Siddharth Singh, the author of a new book The Great Smog of India.
"Not only do air purifiers allows us to consume clean air, they also lead to increased energy consumption -- which in turn can lead to increased power demand and therefore emissions, further impacting those who cannot afford the purifiers," he says in the book.
In his view, "with indoor spaces -- from homes to restaurants, gyms and classrooms -- increasingly start being equipped with air purifiers, we are less likely to consider it a larger social issue as we would have otherwise done."
"This extends to government too: air purifiers in government offices have increasingly become as ubiquitous as a white towel on the officer's chair," he adds.That said, till the time government steps up to clear the air, Dasgupta and many others like her are forced to rely on air purifiers.