AIR POLLUTION. How Can We Tackle It?

Inhaling polluted air is not fair!

Spread solution, not pollution!

Air is the Earth’s atmosphere. When Earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago from a hot mix of gases and solids, it had almost no atmosphere. The surface was molten. As Earth cooled, an atmosphere was formed mainly from gases spewed from volcanoes. After about half a billion years, Earth’s surface cooled and solidified enough for water to collect on it. The atmosphere has been changing since Earth began. Once living things evolved the ability to carry out photosynthesis perhaps 2.7 billion years ago, they started to remake the atmosphere. Ever since then, life and Earth’s atmosphere have waltzed together. As far as we know, the relationship is unique to our planet. The composition of the atmosphere changes constantly and depends on the season, weather, time of day, latitude, longitude, elevation, and geography. Air is one of the four classical elements in our Vedas—Air (Vayu), Water (Jal), Earth (Bhumi) and Fire (Agni).

When natural elements after mixing with the outer elements, get activated in a destructive direction, leaving their regular 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 the air becomes harmful for humans and its environment. 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. Air pollution has harmed the ozone layer, which has adversely affected the climate causing climate change and global warming.

Air is vital for human life. A person breathes an average of 20,000 times throughout the day. During this process of breathing, humans use 35 pounds of air. If this life-giving air is not clean, then it will take life instead of giving life.

Air pollution can be termed as a riot caused by negligence that is killing the people of all religions and regions. The level of air pollution in India has become dangerous to such an extent that it is killing two 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. More than one million people lose their lives every year, which is about 2,880 people die every day in India. Around 18,000 people die every day in the world due to air pollution. The study included air pollution inside the house as well as outside, which means that you can escape from the problems of the world by staying inside the house, but air pollution can kill you even there. The report claims that no city in India meets the standards of the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding air pollution. The information given above gives the impression that we are not tackling air pollution with the utmost seriousness that it deserves.

Air is essential for all human being, flora and fauna. Its importance can be estimated by the fact that humans can survive without food and water for a few days, but without the air, it is impossible to survive. The air is 80 percent of what a human being takes in during the day.

Air pollution is a significant threat to the future of life on this planet, and creating awareness about this is very vital work of everyone. For this purpose, many nations are working together to tackle it. In 1992, The Earth Summit took place at Rio de Janerio where 154 nations agreed to utilise alternative sources of energy to replace the use of fossil fuels, which delegates linked to air pollution and global warming. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol agreed, where more than 178 countries signed the first international treaty, to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. Apart from nations acting on the issue, we need to raise public awareness about this problem. Everyone should be conscious of how serious the problem has become. Consciousness should be raised in children by making air pollution measures as part of the curriculum. The public should be propagated through mass media to disseminate information about the dangers of air pollution.

An important step for prevention of air pollution is by planting trees. We can help to make earth cleaner by planting trees; then life will improve significantly. The air will become cleaner. These trees are one of nature’s best air purifiers. They can dramatically reduce air pollution, thus tackling global warming and greenhouse effect.

Further, we should buy efficient appliances, use energy saving bulbs that consume less electricity. The less energy we all use, the lower our demand is on our use of power, which means less pollution. We should give up reckless and extravagant habits while using electricity and embrace good habits like switching off all the electrical appliances, fans, ACs, bulbs and tube lights when leaving our room or office. Using solar energy and LED lighting instead of incandescent lights, and purchasing only energy-saving appliances, is also an excellent option to reduce air pollution.

Chimneys in the factories should have high altitude and be installed away from urban areas. Technology should be used so that most of the smoke is absorbed and the residual material and the gas cannot be found in excessive amounts. To check unbridled urbanisation, employment and cottage industries and other facilities should be provided in villages and towns too. Uncontrolled harvesting of forests should be stopped. Every human being should participate in the tree-plantation programmes.

Heavy vehicles are significant contributory factors for increasing air pollution at the global level. If we want to achieve a reduction in vehicle-related air pollution, we need to drive less and follow healthy driving cultures. For example, we can cut down air pollution by taking fewer trips in a car and frequently using public modes of transport. We may use a variety of alternative modes of transportation. The viable options that we may go for include carpool, walk-to-work, cycling, shopping through e-commerce, availing public transportation, teleshopping. The maintenance of your vehicle should be done on a consistent basis so that smoke coming out of the vehicles  is minimised. One of the options is to use leadless petrol fuel. The consumers should choose a non-polluting vehicle only, preferably the one that produces zero emissions. Ban the operation of old vehicles, as they produce a substantial amount of smoke. We should stress more on recycle and reuse of products to lower the use of energy.

Most people spend at least 80% of their time staying indoors, which contributes to worsening of air pollution. Smokers also create air pollution with their unhealthy habits. Stopping use of stoves and space heaters, and proper ventilation of living areas help reduce the level of indoor air pollution. Usage of CFCs should be minimised.

In order to prevent air pollution, the Government of India has implemented the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. The purpose of this Act is to redress, control and alleviate the air pollution, to fulfil international obligations to control the increasing air pollution of industrial cities, to protect human and animal life against the polluted air, and maintain the quality of air.

Concerned government departments have been made legally empowered by the government to tackle the menace of air pollution. Our air has become too deadly to breathe. It is a matter of deep regret that such a situation does not constitute a political issue in their country nor it is prominent in media discussions. Occasionally, even the non-governmental organisations also raise serious concerns about air pollution, but nothing concrete happens on the ground. Though many laws have been enacted in India to prevent pollution and environmental protection, their implementation is pathetic. The Supreme Court created the National Green Tribunal for this purpose. But its orders have to be executed by the government machinery only. Due to corruption and negligence, judicial orders are not implemented in letter and spirit. In today’s critical times, it has become necessary that all the countries of the world get together to curb the problem of air pollution.

Nature cannot be destroyed for industrialisation and urbanisation. When life is endangered, then of what use will be the modern means of luxuries and comfort?

Don’t be mean, keep air clean Some changes to the climate are inevitable, but there is still time to correct ourselves and to positively influence the future. The power of young people coupled with the experience of old generation must be utilised by organising awareness programs which create quick positive impact.

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