Man’s reckless pursuit of material comforts has polluted the air to alarming levels. Growth in industries, vehicles, urbanization is among the major components which increase air pollution. Thermal power plants, cement, iron industry, oil purifier industry, mine, and petrochemical industry too contribute to air pollution.
In the olden days, human beings did not face the problem of air pollution as the scope of pollution was limited, and nature too continued to keep the environment balanced. At that time, due to limited pollution, nature used to balance itself but today development is happening on a vast scale, requiring increase in production capacity. Humans are destroying natural resources for industrial benefits without thinking, which has caused natural balance to deteriorate and the air quality cannot escape from it. It is not that that air pollution is the problem of India only, today the majority of the world’s population is in its grip.
Some types of air pollution are due to natural causes which are not in the hands of human beings. Sand storms rising in the desert, smoke generated from the burning of fire and grass in forests, give birth to certain chemicals, which make the air polluted. The origin of pollution can be from any country but it has an impact everywhere. The disinfectant chemicals found in Antarctica, where they have never been used, show the serious extent of the pollution that can reach from one place to another through air.
What is Air Pollution?
When natural elements, after mixing with the outer elements, get activated in a destructive direction, leaving their normal actions, this action is called “pollution.” In the context of this definition, air pollution is the state in which the internal structure of the air is affected due to the presence of dust, smoke, toxic gas, chemical vapour, scientific experiments etc, that is, when air becomes harmful for humans and its environment due to excessive hydrostatic material.
Air pollution refers to the conditions when unwanted elements and particles are stored up in the environment to the extent that it cannot be absorbed by the ecosystem. The release of harmful substances leaves the air polluted. It causes health problems and damages the environment, man, plants and animals. Air pollution has harmed the ozone layer, which has adversely affected the climate.
Atmosphere is an important part of the environment. Air is vital for human life. It is not possible to imagine human life at airless places because humans cannot live longer than 5-6 minutes without air. A person breathes an average of 20,000 times throughout the day. During this breath, humans use 35 pounds of air. If this life-giving air is not clean then it will take life instead of giving life.
Due to air pollution, some harmful substances are produced which cause significant damage to our lungs. These elements are as follows – carbon dioxide (CO2), chloro-fluoro carbon (CFC), ladders, ozone, nitrogen oxides (NOx), suspended particulate matter (SPM) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).
Gases such as nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide etc. are present in our atmosphere in a certain proportion. If the proportion of their presence changes then the atmosphere gets impure. These gases along with hydrocarbons, and dust mites pollute the atmosphere.
What are the sources of air pollution?
There are natural as well as human sources for air pollution. Natural sources include the dust blowing during the storm, ash from volcanic explosions, smog, the smoke generated from fire in the forests, the pollen and hydrogen compounds from plants in the forest, and the methane emitted gas from the decomposition of substances.
On the other hand, the human causes of air pollution include industrial as well as domestic.
The combustion process completed in industries is mainly responsible for air pollution. Smoke, soot, dust, gas, etc from air pollutants, fertilizers and insecticides, and metal products pollute the air.
Wood, coal, gas, oil etc. are used as fuel for the purpose of food and other domestic activities. The smoke, soot, gaseous air structure produced by them badly affects air structure.
Explosives and action to be done for molecular energy, space travel, development of nuclear technology and research are also responsible for polluting the environment. The ultimate result of spacecraft, missiles, radioactivity, thermal imbalance, etc all lead to environmental pollution.
In towns and cities, growing number vehicles and uncontrolled means of traffic are proving to be the main sources of air pollution. Almost all the means of transport such as truck, bus, scooter, motorcycle, jeep, car etc are responsible for air pollution because they release small particles of hydrocarbons, carbon-mono-oxide, nitrogen oxide, lead and other substances in the atmosphere. Diesel-driven vehicles increase air pollution by emitting excessive smoke.
Impacts of Air Pollution
Humans, animals and birds have to face serious problems with the presence of unwanted gases in the air. For instance, it leads to diseases such as asthma, cold-cough, blindness, hearing impairment, skin diseases, etc. After a long time, genetic deformities arise; this can even be more fatal.
Smog envelopes the atmosphere during winter season due to air pollution. It contains smoke and mud particles. This reduces natural visibility, causes irritation in the eyes and difficulty in breathing.
Due to air pollution, the risk of gene mutation, inpatient and skin cancer increases.
Due to air pollution, the temperature of Earth increases, because the effects of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are considerable in the environment as a result of the heat coming from the sun.
Air pollution has increased the risk of acid rain, because the possibility of dissolving toxic gases such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides etc. has increased. This can damage crops, trees, buildings and historic buildings.
Diseases caused due to Air Pollution
Air pollution can increase respiration and heart disease. Due to air pollution, people may face problems like asthma, difficulty in breathing, etc. It can also increase the likelihood of developing membranous nephropathy (kidney disease), which is a major cause of kidney failure.
Among the temporary effects of air pollution include continuous cough and cold, attack of respiratory diseases, restlessness, and an adverse impact on productivity.
The permanent effects of air pollution include poor respiratory system, lung infection, tuberculosis, asthma, lung cancer, brain disorder, kidney disease, and viral infections.
Solution of Air Pollution
- More and more trees should be planted.
- Deforestation should be banned.
- Brick kilns and factories should be set up away from the habitats.
- Petrol should be used by removing the toxic substance like lead.
- Use of smokeless fuel such as cooking gas should be encouraged in homes.
- Filter should be put on the smoke generated from automatic vehicles etc.
- Apart from petrol, diesel, electricity, we should also use alternative sources of energy such as solar energy and wind power.
- We should keep the smoke generated in homes, factories within limits.
- We should not burn garbage, put it in a fixed place and dispose it off after treatment.
- We should use using flowing drains, or spittoon to spit.
- We should also refrain from burning firecrackers.
Impact of Air Pollution on Antibiotics
With the increase in the capacity of bacteria from air pollution, antibiotics given in the treatment of respiratory infections prove ineffective. This has been revealed in a recent research. According to Julie Morris, the Associate Professor of Leicester University in the UK, research has helped us to understand how air pollution affects human life. Morris said, this suggests that air pollution has a bearing on bacteria causing infection as it increases the effect of infection.
This research has been published in the journal ‘Environmental Microbiology’. It explains how air pollution affects the body’s respiratory system (nose, throat, and lungs). The main component of air pollution is carbon. It is produced by the burning of diesel, biofuel and biomass. Research shows that this pollutant changes the process of producing and forming bacterial groups. This enables them to rise and hide in their respiratory tract and fight our immune system.
Air Pollution Information
Air is the basis of life. To stay healthy it is necessary to have clean air. A change in the structure of air poses severe threat to health. Air pollution has become a grave problem for developing countries ranging from India to developed nations such as Japan, America and England. Bhopal Gas Tragedy (1984) of India, smoke produced from the fire in the forests of Malaysia and Indonesia (1997) are catastrophic examples of air pollution. Air Pollution has occupied an important place in the topic list of “Earth Conference”. It is responsible for diseases of nervous, respiratory systems and heart ailments, tuberculosis etc.
The most dangerous aspect associated with air pollution in India is that we are lagging behind other countries of the world in the fight against pollution. You can understand this with the comparative example between India and China. Deaths due to loss of ozone layer in India have increased 53 percent since 1990 and since 2005 there has been an increase of 24 percent. While deaths from ozone loss in China since 1990 have increased by 16 percent and since 2005 there is downward trend in them, similarly, deaths from PM2.5 particles have increased by 17 percent in China since 1990. At the same time, the number of deaths of PM2.5 particles in India has increased by 47 percent.
Air pollution in India is killing 12 lakh people every year. This is a kind of invisible massacre, which must be stopped at all times. Because, if it does not happen, then; that day is not far away when the people may have to seek refuge in other countries to avoid pollution.
Impact of Air Pollution on India
Air pollution can be termed as a riot caused by negligence that is killing the people of all religions. The level of air pollution in India has become dangerous to such an extent that it is killing 2 people every single minute. According to a news report, ‘The Lancet Countdown’, Delhi, the capital of the country and Patna, the capital of Bihar, are among the most polluted cities in the world. According to this report, more than one million people lose their lives every year, which is, about 2880 people die every day in India, due to air pollution.
According to ‘The Lancet Countdown’, 18,000 people die every day in the world due to air pollution. It includes air pollution inside the house as well as outside, that means you can escape from the problems of the world by staying inside the house, but air pollution can kill you even there.
This report has been prepared by 48 scientists from 16 different institutes. According to these scientists, where the level of pollution is according to the standards set by the WHO, there is a high risk of death of people. The average annual level of PM2.5 particles, responsible for air pollution in Delhi and Patna is 120 microgram per cubic meter. It is 12 times more than the standards set by the WHO.
According to WHO, the average annual level of pollution should not exceed 10 microgram per cubic meter. Compared to China, pollution is rising faster in India. Another international report related to air pollution called ‘State of Global Air 2017’ said that in the year 2015 due to the loss of ozone layer, 254000 people died in India.
Ozone is the layer of environment that prevents harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. When there is loss of ozone layer, people get lung disease related diseases. According to this report, in 2015, 2.5 million people died in India due to lung diseases.
Lakhs of people are being killed every year in India due to the loss of ozone layer. This figure of death is 13 times higher than Bangladesh and 21 times more than Pakistan. In case of air pollution, the air is much clearer in Bangladesh and Pakistan than in India.
Even after years, air pollution is increasing in India. Whether it is the Central Government or the State Governments, there is need for more seriousness about fighting pollution. While answering a question in the Lok Sabha, the Central Government said that India spends Rs 7 crore every year on the monitoring of air pollution. This amount is very low for this vast country with a population of 132 crores.
Air Quality Index
The Central Pollution Control Board in India determines the standard of pollution. To measure the level of pollution in India, the CPCB considers the National Ambient Air Quality Standards as the basis. According to National Ambient Air Quality, the annual average PM10 particles in any area should not exceed 60 micrograms per cubic meter. According to an International NGO named Green Peace, except for some cities in south India, pollution levels in almost all the cities of the country are far more than that.
Green Peace has released a report claiming that about 12 lakh people die every year due to air pollution in India. These reports are based on the data of air pollution obtained from 168 cities in India. The report claims that any city in India does not meet the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) in terms of air pollution. That is, if the scale determined by the WHO is considered to be the basis, every city in India involved in the report has failed in the pollution test.
These reports are based on the data collected in the year 2015. According to Green Peace, Delhi is the most polluted city in terms of PM10 standards of pollution. After that Ghaziabad is number two and Allahabad at number three, Bareilly at number four and Faridabad at fifth position. Karnataka’s Hassan city is at the last number in this list. According to this report, many cities of South India are less polluted than cities of North India.
The information given above, gives you an idea that we are not taking the risk of air pollution seriously. You will be surprised and angry that political parties do not place issues such as pollution in their manifesto and if there is any mention in this regard, that’s more like formality.
All this is happening when more than 10 lakh people are killed every year in India due to air pollution. Politicians seeking votes in the name of temple, mosque, caste and religion should seek vote in the name of clean air. Leaders should promise to people that when they come to power, they will eradicate the pollution. Their manifestos should contain the steps to reduce the effects of air pollution.
But the politicians do not have any policy of fighting pollution. Also to be blamed are unconcerned ordinary people, intellectuals and the TV channels who make big debates on controversial issues but not on the threat of pollution. Even ordinary people do not ask politicians how they will fight pollution when they win elections. This situation has to be changed very soon because the death of 10 to 12 lakh people per year is a colossal loss which calls for efforts on a war footing to curb air pollution.
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