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According to recent data released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the risk of ozone pollution in the Delhi-NCR region has increased due to heavy sunlight and severe heat.
- Air quality is measured on the basis of PM 10 and PM 2.5 in the air pollutants, but these days, the amount of ozone recorded in Delhi-NCR is a greater threat than that of PM10 and PM 2.5.
- Ozone particles found on the surface are considered to be very dangerous for health.
- According to the data, the presence of ozone pollutants particles in the air of Delhi, Ghaziabad, Greater Noida and Gurugram were also recorded on Sunday.
- With more than two crores of Delhi’s population, NCR’s population is also vulnerable to Ozone pollution.
- SAFAR India has also issued an alert for ozone.
HOW OZONE POLLUTION IS PRODUCED?
- Ozone pollution is a kind of oxide.
- The rays of extremely hot sunlight by responding to the smoke from the vehicles make the ozone pollutant.
- In addition to the smoke coming out of the vehicles, ozone pollution is also produced from the burning of garbage or smoke from the industries.
- Ground-level ozone is not directly emitted by any source. This is formed when oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and a range of volatile gases primarily from vehicles and other sources are exposed to each other in sunlight.
- Warm and stagnant air increases the formation of ozone. This is also the reason why there is high variability across the region depending on the local and meteorological conditions.
WHY SHOULD WE WORRY ABOUT OZONE?
- Global experience has shown that as the pollution from combustion sources grow that are the emitters of nitrogen oxide and other volatile compounds, ozone formation increases and remains obstinate.
- India is also falling in that trap and needs early preventive action.
- Already the earlier burden of disease study has shown that early deaths due to ozone have jumped by 148 per cent in India.
- India should take early and stringent steps to control ozone precursors which are very difficult to control.
- It includes stringent control of gaseous emissions from combustion sources including vehicles.
HOW IT IMPACTS THE HUMAN HEALTH?
- Serious health issues: Ozone is a hazardous gas and it can cause serious health problems in just a few hours. Due to the increase in ozone, the death toll in India has increased by 148 percent.
- Diseases: The direct impact of ozone falls on the lungs and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It further leads to chest pain, cough, headache, tightness in chest etc.
- Dangerous for outdoor activities: Ozone is a powerful oxidizer that damages cells. It is the most dangerous for outdoor activities.
- More suffering: It affects the person suffering from asthma, respiratory and lung diseases. Apart from this, it is also fatal for patients with diseases such as heart disease, bronchitis.
- Most vulnerable: Children and adolescents are the most affected. This is the reason that premature mortality also increases.
- Agriculture: It also spoils the crops.
RECENT INITIATIVE TAKEN BY GOVERNMENT TO CONTROL POLLUTION:
- BS-VI:The government has played a vital role and made ‘serious’ efforts to deal with air pollution, including leap-frogging from BS-IV to BS-VI.
- Action Points: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has taken important measures in the matter. In 2016, all non-attainment cities were given a set of 42 action points for improving air quality. As a follow-up, 94 nonattainment cities were also asked to prepare detailed action plans for improving upon air quality depending on their local conditions.
- GRAP: CPCB has formulated the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to improve air quality in Delhi. In addition to this, CPCB also organized seven workshops at various locations in different states.
- National Clean Air Programme (NCAP): The NCAP was also launched and this was preceded by Clean Air Programme in Delhi to sensitise the public in general and implementing agencies in particular.
- Others: Other measures include, a comprehensive action plan by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, ban on petcoke in Delhi and NCR, strict surveillance over coal-fired plants, strict action against construction activities, regular field surveillance by CPCB teams, augmentation of air quality monitoring stations in Delhi and NCR, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), launch of mobile application SAMEER for grievance redressal, coordinate action at national-level through a high-level task force in the PMO and others.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
- Urgent action plan: Most of the polluted areas are located in and around Delhi, it is critical for the government to take up urgent action on cleaning the air in cities.
- Treating the source: The major sources of air pollution include inefficient use of energy by households, industry, agriculture and transport sectors, coal-fired power plants, waste burning, deforestation. The major focus should be on effective controlling of these sources of air pollution.
- Strict action plan & strict implementation: Furthermore, to check the national public health crisis, some serious action plan should be formulated and strict and effective implementation must be ensured.
Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems. It becomes worse, in a city like Delhi where the number of people suffering from asthma and lung-related diseases, comprising of adolescents, children and farm workers, is very high. To avoid ozone, control over nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and organic compounds is essential. Therefore, the government should urgently form a plan to reduce emissions of gas in the action plan, in which vehicles, industries and power plants should be included in all.