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August 17, 2019
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August 20, 2019

THE NEWS: 

Pollution levels in India has increased to alarming levels. Pollution is linked to increased rates of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, dementia and much more.

Causes of air pollution:

  • The burning of fossil fuels
  • Sulfur dioxide emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and other factory combustibles are one the major cause of air pollution. Pollution emitting from vehicles including trucks, jeeps, cars, trains, airplanes cause an immense amount of pollution. We rely on them to fulfill our daily basic needs of transportation.

  • Agricultural activities
  • Ammonia is a very common byproduct from agriculture-related activities and is one of the most hazardous gases in the atmosphere. Use of insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers in agricultural activities has grown quite a lot. They emit harmful chemicals into the air and can also cause water pollution.

  • Exhaust from factories and industries
  • Manufacturing industries release a large amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, organic compounds, and chemicals into the air thereby depleting the quality of air. Manufacturing industries can be found at every corner of the earth and there is no area that has not been affected by it. Petroleum refineries also release hydrocarbons and various other chemicals that pollute the air and also cause land pollution.

  • Mining operations
  • Mining is a process wherein minerals below the earth are extracted using large equipment. During the process dust and chemicals are released in the air causing massive air pollution. This is one of the reasons which is responsible for the deteriorating health conditions of workers and nearby residents.

  • Indoor air pollution
  • Household cleaning products, painting supplies emit toxic chemicals in the air and cause air pollution. Suspended particulate matter popular by its acronym SPM, is another cause of pollution. Referring to the particles afloat in the air, SPM is usually caused by dust, combustion, etc.

Problems of air pollution:

  • Respiratory and heart problems
  • The effects of air pollution are alarming. They are known to create several respiratory and heart conditions along with Cancer, among other threats to the body. Several million are known to have died due to direct or indirect effects of Air pollution. Children in areas exposed to air pollutants are said to commonly suffer from pneumonia and asthma.

  • Global warmings
  • Another direct effect is the immediate alterations that the world is witnessing due to global warming. With increased temperatures worldwide, increase in sea levels and melting of ice from colder regions and icebergs, displacement and loss of habitat have already signaled an impending disaster if actions for preservation and normalization aren’t undertaken soon.

  • Acid rain
  • Harmful gases like nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides are released into the atmosphere during the burning of fossil fuels. When it rains, the water droplets combine with these air pollutants, becomes acidic and then falls on the ground in the form of acid rain. Acid rain can cause great damage to human, animals, and crops.

  • Eutrophication
  • Eutrophication is a condition where a high amount of nitrogen present in some pollutants gets developed on sea’s surface and turns itself into algae and adversely affects fish, plants and animal species. The green colored algae that are present on lakes and ponds is due to the presence of this chemical only.

  • Effect on wildlife
  • Just like humans, animals also face some devastating effects of air pollution. Toxic chemicals present in the air can force wildlife species to move to a new place and change their habitat. The toxic pollutants deposit over the surface of the water and can also affect sea animals.

  • Depletion of the ozone layer
  • Ozone exists in the Earth’s stratosphere and is responsible for protecting humans from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Earth’s ozone layer is depleting due to the presence of chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. As the ozone layer will go thin, it will emit harmful rays back on earth and can cause skin and eye related problems. UV rays also have the capability to affect crops.

Government initiatives:

  • National Clean Air Programme (NCAP): It was launched by Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change as a time bound national level strategy for pan India implementation to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner.
  • Air Quality Index (AQI): It is a tool for effective communication of air quality status to people in terms, which are easy to understand. It transforms complex air quality data of various pollutants into a single number (index value), nomenclature and colour.
  • National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS): Its major objectives are (i) to indicate necessary air quality levels and appropriate margins required to ensure the protection of vegetation, health and property (ii) to provide a uniform yardstick for assessment of air quality at the national level.

Suggestive measures:

  • Use public mode of transportation
  • People should be encouraged to use more and more public modes of transportation to reduce pollution. Carpooling can also be used. It would help to save energy and money.

  • Conserve energy
  • Fans and lights should be switched off when not in use. A large number of fossil fuels are burnt to produce electricity. Reducing the number of fossil fuels to be burned can save the environment from degradation.

  • Understand the concept of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
  • Instead of throwing away items that are of no use they could be reused for some other purpose.

  • Emphasis on clean energy resources
  • Clean energy technologies like solar, wind and geothermal are on high these days. Governments of various countries have been providing grants to consumers who are interested in installing solar panels for their home. This will go a long way to curb air pollution.

  • Use energy efficient devices
  • CFL lights consume less electricity as against their counterparts. They live longer, consume less electricity, lower electricity bills and also help you to reduce pollution by consuming less energy.

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