NPCD 2019: Curbing Alarming Air Pollution
Over the past decade, as air pollution levels have significantly increased in India, the health costs also tend to rise. Each year, post-Diwali, the biggest festival in India; the nation’s capital, Delhi remains covered in toxic fumes due to the firecrackers and stubble burnings in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The alarming levels of pollution levels have led to premature deaths, cancer and mental diseases in various parts of the country.
How bad is the air quality level? This question tends to be a frequently asked one to the Indian government as the levels of pollution continues to affect the children and adults severely. While the government has been taking various initiatives promising a controlled pollution level, citizens still must understand their responsibilities. This national Pollution Control Day or National Pollution Prevention Day, there are various organizations, students and people who will be supporting the government to control and prevent pollution.
2nd December, National Pollution Control Day (NPCD)
The day is celebrated each year in India to honour and memorialize the thousands of human beings who had lost their existence because of the Bhopal gas calamity. The 1984 disaster was a result of unintentional discharge of the poisonous chemical known as Methyl Isocyanate (also called MIC) as well as some other chemicals released from the Union Carbide Chemical Plant positioned in the city.
While thousands died instantly, many lost their lives in following 72 hours and later, making the disaster, the biggest industrial pollution disaster of the history worldwide which needed serious preventive measures suddenly to stay away from such type of disaster in the future.
The objectives of the day are to spread awareness on managing and controlling industrial disasters, to prevent the pollution produced by industrial processes or human negligence and to make people and industries aware about the importance of pollution control acts.
Air pollution kills millions of people every year globally, more than half of the number are those who die from indoor air pollution. A microscopic pollutant (PM 2.5) can damage the lungs, heart, and brain as it can pass through the mucus membrane and other protective barriers. Particulate matter is a key pollutant that is a mix of solid and liquid droplets arising from fuel combustion, nitrogen dioxide from road traffic; ozone at ground level, caused by the reaction of sunlight with pollutants from industrial facilities and vehicle emissions; and sulphur dioxide, and invisible gas from burning fossil fuels like coal.
Effects of Ambient Air Pollution
Breathing problems: Short and Long Term Exposure to ambient air pollution can lead to reduced lung function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma in children as well as adults.
Pregnancy Problems: Exposure to Air Pollution during pregnancy can lead to adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight, pre-term birth and small gestational age births.
Effects of Household Air Pollution
Various researches have showcased that pollution levels inside the house are more than outside. The exposure to indoor air pollutants can lead to a wide range of adverse health outcomes including respiratory illnesses, cancer tends eye problems. Members of a family that rely on polluting fuels and devices also suffer a higher risk of burns, poisonings, musculoskeletal injuries and accidents.
Ways to limit Air Pollution Influence on Health
One can adopt various steps to ensure they are protected from the effects of the alarming air pollution levels including:
- Limiting walking on busy streets during rush hour and lifting the young child above the level of vehicle exhausts.
- Avoiding and stopping others from burning waste as the smoke that results in damages the health.
- Directing efforts towards promoting the use of renewable energy.
- Taking steps to enhance the plantation as the urban forest and green roofs help in reducing pollution in urban areas.
- Turning off lights and electronics when they are not in use.
Government is also taking various steps to curb air pollution in the country including:
- The Delhi government launched an Odd-Even Rule in November 2017 based on the Odd-Even rationing method. The method includes cars running with number plates ending in Odd digits could only be driven on certain days of the week, while the Even digit cars could be driven on the remaining days of the week.
- The government of India is committed to a 50% reduction in using solid fuel for cooking used by households.
- Penalties have been induced on people burning rubbish along with measures such as tighter vehicle emissions’ norms by various local governments.
- The government aims to introduce electric public transport buses and increase the number of electrically powered private vehicles.
- It is also planning to achieve its goal of analyzing health data and study the efficiency of different room filtration systems in areas where indoor air pollution is highest.
As India is leading towards to become one of the youngest countries in the world, it is essential to understand and work on the reasons that have been leading to the increased pollution levels. Will Delhi be liveable? The answer depends on how the government and citizens will adopt the actions required for the change.