Hey there! Yes, you. Can you spare a few moments from your busy schedule and look up in the sky tonight?
So, today, tomorrow, day after… whenever you are free, just go outside, look up and try to count the number of stars that are visible. Simple isn’t it?
Science says that there is innumerable number of stars. But how many are visible to us? A thick blanket of air pollution has engulfed our atmosphere and sadly, it has completely destroyed the environment that we are living in. The visibility of stars in Delhi has gone down by 5% every year from 2008 to 2011.
Presence of undesirable substances in the air, in such concentrations, that it is harmful for human beings and the environment, is known as Air Pollution. Air Pollution can be classified into two broad categories, namely, Gaseous and Particulate Matter. Gases like Sulphur dioxide and Carbon Monoxide contribute to gaseous pollution. Particulate Matter can be further subdivided into Settleable Particulate matter and Suspended Particulate Matter. Toxic particles that are more than 10 micrometer in diameter are put under Settleable Particulate matter and toxic particles that are equal to or less than 10 micrometer in diameter comes under the category of Suspended Particulate Matter.
To address the gravity of the situation, the following are a few case studies of how air pollution has taken a toll on the environment:
OZONE LAYER DEPLETION
Ozone layer prevents harmful Ultraviolet B rays to enter the surface of the Earth. Depletion of this layer can cause cataract and skin problems in Human beings and has other harmful effects on animals and plants. Excessive use of Chlorofluorocarbons or CFC’s used in spray aerosols created a hole in the Ozone Layer. It also affected the reproductive cycle of Phytoplankton that is found in the bottom rung of the food chain.
Fortunately, CFC’s were banned in the year 1996. However, scientists predict that it will take 50 more years for the ozone layer to regain its natural state.
Ozone Hole has shrunk. To know more Click here
These were a few cases of how air pollution has affected both living and nonliving. India, topped the list of countries with pollution-related deaths in 2015. To know more Click here
Read further to know how air pollution is choking Delhi and its nearby regions.
A study conducted by IIT Kanpur, revealed that coal fired tandoors, used in hotels and restaurants contributed as much pollution as leaf burning and mass burning in landfills do. It proposed to replace these Tandoors with Electric Tandoors.
Within a decade, that is, from 2002-2012, the number of automobiles in Delhi, sharply escalated by 97%. This led to an increase in pollution by 75%
Emission from a single diesel car is equivalent to at least 25 petrol cars. Imagine. High CNG costs hamper efforts to promote clean fuel.
Delhi and its surrounding regions has minimum parking charges. Developed cities like London, Oslo and Paris charge approximately 40 US $ daily for using public space to park private vehicles. Increased parking charges will, to some extent, help to cap the over explosive growth of cars.
During this time, as levels of PM 2.5 are highest in the morning, running a marathon can deposit approximately two tablespoons of toxic ash in lungs. Source
It was reported that the number of vehicles on Delhi Roads is more than the total number of vehicles plying on the roads of three metropolitan cities, namely, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai taken together. Due to Lead, found in automobiles, Vehicular Pollution is a major source of Pollution in Delhi and NCR region. Poor quality fuel and dieselization has aggravated the problem.
Delhi has been unable to manage its waste. Most of the waste is not treated properly and to dispose of this waste, garbage is simply burnt, which leads to air pollution. Landfills in Delhi easily catch fire due to chemical toxicants present in the garbage. Ghazipur landfill, for instance, caught fire in October that lasted for six hours. To know more about Ghazipur Landfill Click here
Crops burnt in nearby states such as Punjab and Haryana accounts for 12% to 60% of air pollution in Delhi and NCR region. Source
Industries, then again account for air pollution.
There is a need to maintain and gradually increase the green cover. Proper regulation of vehicular pollution is the need of the hour. Proper restrictions must be imposed so that industries and agricultural waste do not pollute beyond a permissible limit. Waste Management must be decentralized and segregation of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste is a must.
Air pollution can cause lung cancer, asthma, chronic bronchitis along with other respiratory problems. Suspended Particulate Matter can enter blood vessels and pose serious health issues.
From blurred vision, headaches and drowsiness to corroding the inner lining of the lungs, air pollution can fatally affect elderly people, infants, pregnant women and people with heart diseases, asthma or other respiratory diseases.
A deadly gas, Carbon Monoxide, is present in large quantities in Delhi. Prolonged exposure to this gas can lead to Collapse, Coma or even Death.
Health experts claim that Air Pollution affects memory and IQ of kids. To know more Click here
A study published in 2012, revealed that every third child in Delhi has reduced lung function.
Air Pollution also affects the plants by damaging their leaf pores. As a result, plants are unable to breathe properly or produce their own food.
The National Green Tribunal directed Delhi Government’ Transport Department to deregister all the diesel vehicles that are more than 15 years old.
The National Green Tribunal has banned burning of waste in open places and has announced a fine of Rs 5000 on simple burning and Rs 25000 on bulk burning.
‘Mai Bnauga Pollution Free Delhi’ or the Odd Even Scheme was implemented by the Delhi Government, wherein cars with odd number plates were supposed to ply on odd days and those with even number plates were supposed to ply on even days.
In November, 2016 as air pollution reached alarming levels, a ban on construction material and demolition activity was imposed. Sprinkling water on roads and vacuum cleaning was initiated.
The Center for Science and Environment reported that there is a need to restrain public vehicles through taxation and parking policy, control dieselization, promote walking and cycling.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Switch to CNG and avoid using Diesel vehicles.
Restrain from burning Firecrackers and Bonfire.
Walk or Cycle for short distances. Try Carpool or use Public Transport.
Go for a regular Pollution check of your vehicles.
- Use Pollution masks Wherever possible
- Drink Lemon water every morning to Detoxify
Segregate your garbage into biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste and motivate others to do so. Don’t burn solid waste.
Keep your environment clean and green.
We have done irreversible damage to our environment. The least we can do is, protect it from any further harm.
So, what are you waiting for? Get up! Before it is too late. Set aside your anti-pollution mask and take action to curb air pollution.