Air pollution in India

Deep breathing is the solution to many health problems as we inhale fresh and oxygen rich air. But is it true for our nation? Do we have fresh air especially in the cities which are congested, full of public, vehicles and industries?

In the Yale Environmental Performance Index by the Yale University, India ranked at 174th position out of 178 countries on air pollution. Only Pakistan, China, Nepal and Bangladesh have worst air quality than India as per the index. For indexing, air quality, water, sanitation and status of biodiversity have been taken into account. The overall rank of India is 155th, whereas most of the other BRICS countries are ahead of India on overall rating.

In 2010, India’s Central Pollution Control Board had presented the report according to which 180 cities in India had particulate matter six times more than the permissible limit set by the World Health Organization in the air. Vehicles, biomass burning, fuel adulteration are few of the major causes of air pollution in India. The problem of air pollution is so big that we cannot afford to overlook it.

Facts about Air Pollution in India

India is the seventh most environmentally unsafe country in the world.

Most of the industries do not stick to the environmental guidelines, regulations and laws.

Pollution caused by burning fuelwood and biomass is one of the main causes of the Asian brown cloud. This cloud delays the monsoon in India.

Many auto rickshaws and taxis in India use adulterated fuel.  This is done to lower down the price but it is the environment and ultimately we who have to pay the price back. Some of the adulterants are actually very harmful to the environment as these emit unsafe pollutants which further deteriorate the quality of air.

As per the scientific studies it has been found out that traffic at low speed especially during congestion burn fuel ineffectually and emit 4 to 8 times more air pollutants.

There are more than 40 different types of dangerous pollutants in the engine exhaust (diesel and gas). 70% of the air pollution is caused by vehicles.

Burning of fossil fuel such as coal and diesel has reduced the growth of rice harvest in India. India is the third largest producer of coal in the world and at the top as far as CO2 emittance is considered.

30% children in Bangalore suffer from Asthma due to air pollution. The city is also regarded as the asthma capital of India.

In NDTV it has been shown that Delhi is the most polluted city in the world and it left behind Beijing in air pollution. Industrial and vehicular emissions have caused the pollution to rise at this level in Delhi. Each day 1,400 new vehicles are added to Delhi roads.

Air Pollution effect on health

Numerous health problems are associated with air pollution. Number of people dying of asthma in India is more than elsewhere in the world.

Indoor cooking fire is the third and outdoor air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death in India.

A study was conducted on non-smokers in India and Europe. It has been found out that lungs of a non smoker Indian performs 30% less than a European because of pollution.

Among hospitalized children in India, 13% deaths are caused by the acute respiratory infection.

Because of high vehicular pollution, Delhi school children show poor lung function (reduced in 43.5% school children in Delhi) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Non-communicable diseases are increasing in India and accounts for 62% of the total disease. Apart from pollution, lifestyle and genetic also play their role.

Cancer cases are increasing at an alarming rate in India. According to the estimates of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) by 2026 there will be more than 1.4 million people suffering from cancer. One of the major reasons for this would be greater exposure to environmental carcinogens.

Steps Taken

Proverb ‘Prevention is better than cure’ appropriately suits to this condition. Pollution must be prevented rather than letting it go and then dealing with it. India has been working hard to improve the air quality for the last 15 years. This has resulted in the drop of the major air pollutants during 1995-2008.

Forregulating air pollution the Air (Prevention and Control Pollution) Act was passed in 1981.

The Supreme Court in India can work wonder in combating the problem of air pollution. It has taken many decisions in this regard and one of the most beneficial was the mandatory use of compressed natural gas in public service vehicles in Delhi in 1985. This had effectively changed the percentage of air pollution.

Many residential areas of Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai and Bhopal have shown the declining trends in the level of sulphur dioxide. Local measures like reduction of sulphur in diesel, introduction of clean fuel standard, and increasing use of LPGs instead of biomass as domestic fuel are some of the likely reasons for this decline.

Bhopal and Solapur are showing decline in the levels of nitrogen dioxide.

Introduction of metro in Delhi as public transport was one of the way to reduce pollution.

But India needs to put more efforts to control this frightening condition. Public awareness should be raised and stringent measures should be taken to regulate the vehicular emission. We must use public transport wherever possible, use energy-efficient appliances, do not burn wood or coal, kitchen and bathrooms should have exhaust fan to reduce indoor pollution.

Read More:

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