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Indian Express


1) To clear the air


  • According to a recent report on the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), the health effects of air pollution are causing Indians to lose 5.3 years of life expectancy on average.
  • With an estimated 11.9-year life loss, Delhi’s estimate is considerably worse.
  • In addition to premature mortality, air pollution causes significant disability and chronic illness.
  • The serious repercussions of India’s air pollution issue are highlighted in this article.

India’s Position in Global Air Pollution

  • Along with Wuhan and Lahore, Delhi is among the world’s most polluted cities on a regular basis.
  • 39 of the 50 most polluting cities in the world in 2022, according to IQAir, are in India.
  • Air pollution is a major problem that affects both urban and rural areas equally because it is caused by smoke from burning biomass fuels, dust from unpaved roads, and vehicle emissions.

Types of Monitored Pollutants

  • Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5),
  • nitrogen dioxide,
  • sulphur dioxide,
  • carbon monoxide,
  • ozone,
  • ammonia,
  • lead,
  • benzene,
  • formaldehyde, and other pollutants are among those whose levels are tracked with respect to air quality.
  • Cancer can result from several of these contaminants, including formaldehyde and benzene from wildfire emissions.
  • Because they can reach the bloodstream and pose health problems, ultra-fine particles (smaller than 0.1 microns) and fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) in the air have drawn attention.

Divergence from WHO Standards

  • India has relaxed national air quality regulations than the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • The WHO limit for PM2.5 is 5 microns, however India has a 40 micron limit.
  • Delhi reports an air quality index (AQI) of 126, which is much above national and WHO guidelines.
  • India’s AQI has multiple categories, ranging from “Good” to “Severe.”
  • Stricter regulations are necessary because air pollution can have negative health effects even at levels below the national norm.

Geographic and Seasonal Variations

  • Due to its physical features, the landlocked Indo-Gangetic plain has the highest levels of pollution since it lacks the advantages of coastal areas with sea breezes for dispersal.
  • The issue is made worse by actions like burning urban inhabitants’ trash and agricultural crop residues during the severe winter months, when the cold air retains pollutants.

Sources of Air Pollution

  • There are both interior (household) and outdoor (ambient) causes of air pollution.
  • Particulate matter is a common component and comes from different sources.
  • Among the main sources are the use of biomass fuel in cooking stoves, dust from roads and building sites, and emissions from diesel fuel.
  • In India, the mix of emissions differs between rural and urban areas and between regions, necessitating the use of diverse management measures.

Health Impacts of Air Pollution

  • Air pollution exposure can cause a wide range of health impacts, from minor ailments like respiratory irritation and burning eyes to serious illnesses including heart attacks, strokes, malignancies, diabetes, dementia, and cataracts.
  • Prolonged exposure can cause asthma, respiratory infections, poor learning in kids, and reduced growth.
  • Air pollution has a wide range of detrimental effects on public health and is a major problem.

Way Forward:

  • A diversified strategy is needed to mitigate air pollution, such as giving up smoking and shaving, switching to clean transportation, using public transportation instead of private vehicles, and switching to renewable energy sources.
  • Enhancing kitchen ventilation and utilising natural gas can help lower household air pollution.
  • To reduce air pollution, safeguard public health, and create cleaner surroundings in India, effective public policies, enforcement, monitoring, and data-driven technologies are crucial.

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