Those were the winter months and finally my family decided to go out for a vacation. We went to visit my younger sister in Kota, Rajasthan. We stayed there for around four days. The city was dapper and well organised. There we could see studious teenagers walking or riding their bicycles around. The spacious city though was very close to the arid regions of the Thar Desert but still was greener and considerably vegetated and there was no trace of air pollution.
We decided to stay for a day or two in Delhi as it fall on the way back to our home. Our plan was to roam around in the city and visit few famous spots; perhaps we ended up heading back a day earlier.
Delhi is the capital of India, one of the biggest metropolitan cities and inhabited by most of our ministers and delegates, along with million other public personnel. The city is fast, competitive and the biggest job providing hub in the country; at the same time it has become one of the most populated and polluted of the world. The concrete jungle stands all around up to the farthest space that could be visible. The city has become a web of never ending roads, buildings, paths and humans filling up the last possible spaces. I could see greens very rarely; moreover there was no space left to grow one. Everyone’s so busy in their works that they don’t even have time to take actions about such matters.
Life in a City around Air Pollution
We arrived at Delhi in the early morning. The smoggy air was very dense. It was severely suffocating. There were places and moments when I had to cover my mouth with a cloth as the dense air was choking me out. I felt as if I had a severe lung problem. Although we already had heard about the severity of air pollution in the city but never had we imagined about the feeling of facing it.
Somehow, we managed to survive till the afternoon. Until then the density of the air had reduced a little, making the air slightly breathable. The uneasiness in that surrounding was very frustrating. We were astonished at the level of tolerance that the residents of the city have adopted to that silent killer which they were breathing anyhow.
What data says about Air Pollution :
According to WHO, 9 out of 10 people breathe highly polluted air and approximately 7 million people lose their lives each year worldwide by suffering from lungs and respiratory ailments, cancer and infections in their blood and lungs, which is just because of breathing unhealthy air. WHO has set a limit for the particulate matter (PM) in the air as 20µg/m3 for PM10 (includes dust particles, pollens etc.) and 10µg/m3 for PM2.5 (includes finer particles like nitrates, carbon black, sulphate).
Recently, WHO released its annual list of cities affected by air pollution; and surprisingly India’s many cities were in the top positions. Infact, all the top positions, from 1st to 14th for being the most polluted one, were grabbed by Indian cities and North India succeeded in winning the race.
Delhi descended to the 6th position, but the level of PM that it had is stupefying, i.e., 143µg/m3 of PM2.5, which means more than 14 times than that of the recommended breathable air limit. Isn’t this bizarre!
Naturally there are few organisms that can indicate pollution that I have covered in one of my previous post – Pollution Indicator Organisms.
Contributors to the Air Pollution :
Before knowing about the solution and ways to handle a problem, we must know its source. So, let’s have a look on the major contributors to the Air pollution.
- Vehicular exhaust from those ever expanding individual fuel combusting private cars, taxis, bikes, scooty, jeeps, buses, trucks, autoriksha and everything on the road.
- Decreasing plant population. Though there might be few trees alongside roads or gardens but they are not sufficient to absorb pollution and CO2 emitted by a population many times larger than them.
- Smoke from industries and factories into work in the near-by areas.
- Burning garbage, agricultural wastes, plastics, wood and other materials.
- Carbon dioxide emissions through our breathing phenomenon which is increasing as the population density increases in the same area.
How we can help to reduce Air Pollution :
Air Pollution can no doubt be reduced if we pledge to take action at individual levels. There are so many basic things that we usually ignore which at a larger scale contributes to the bigger issues. So, quickly let’s have a look on things that we can do to control Air Pollution.
- Plant as many plants as you can. Fill your home and every possible place with plants and trees, more the greens more will they help you. Try to plant trees in public areas too.
- Always try car pooling; it’s an efficient way of reducing exhaust pollution. More the car pooling, fewer the vehicles on the roads and lesser the air pollution around.
- Sometimes travel in public transportation vehicles like buses and trains. They are specifically running for the public from our taxes, moreover we learn new things around more people.
- Use less taxis or cabs, if you are using them then try to share with others.
- Avoid useless burning of agricultural wastes, garbage, rubbish, plastics. It will not help in de-cluttering the space but will contribute in building up poisonous air around you.
- Try to ride bicycles, they are the cleanest mode of transportation plus they have health benefits too.
Also read Smart Ways to Conserve Environment