Category Archives: air pollution

Air Pollution in Trivandrum – Issues and Solutions

What is air pollution?

“Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants.” (National Geographic)]

Trivandrum’s Air Quality Index for November 7, 2018 is 134. (AQICN.org)

How is it harmful?

Apart from the obvious breathing issues it can cause, including bronchitis, “conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and lung disease can be made worse by exposure to air pollution”; further, it can cause “long-term damage to people’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs.”

Having observed the issue keenly during my stay in this city, I have identified three main sources of localized air pollution :

  1. Open burning of waste
  2. Dust from unkempt and broken roads and muddy lanes
  3. Exhaust fumes from diesel trucks, carriers, buses, and other vehicles.

These three sources, if left unchecked, have tremendous potential to pollute the city to the level people feel uncomfortable walking in the open. This is despite the green cover, that this city, has at present.

Another upcoming source of air pollution is the unmanaged and ever increasing construction activities.

As Kerala is being rebuilt and the state endeavors to retain its natural charm, it is very important for administration and residents to be aware of these dangers.

What are the solutions at hand?

  1. To minimize burning of waste, people need to be made aware of the harms of open burning of waste and be incentivized to separate recyclable waste.
  2. Buyers of recyclable waste needs to be roped in to collect it from the residential and commercial units at regular intervals.
  3. A separate community awareness drive needs to be initiated towards reducing use of one-time plastic.
  4. People need to be educated on composting of wet waste.
  5. Municipal corporation/municipality/village panchayat needs to step in to enforce rules for stopping open burning of waste.
  6. To minimize dust from unkempt roads and muddy lanes, municipal corporation/ municipality/village panchayat need to ensure watering of roads and regular cleaning. At a comprehensive level, scientific planning and construction of roads needs to be undertaken.
  7. To minimize exhaust fumes from diesel trucks, carriers, buses, and other vehicles, regular inspection of vehicles (made possible through yearly or biannual registration check) and imposing fines at the spot by traffic police personnel (or better, a specially deployed “pollution control personnel”) on erring vehicles are possible solutions.
  8. At the government level, all subsidies on diesel should be reduced (except a few sensitive categories like water pumps for farmers) as it is the most polluting fuel. Specially for public carriers, such engines must be designed which are low maintenance, high performing, and least polluting.

All need to work towards it…individuals, private players, administration, and Government.

 

 

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Why open burning should be discouraged in Trivandrum, and other places?

Hi…I was so happy to see the view from our balcony—only natural beauty and no smoke fumes coming from between the trees.

This is a rare sight, I must tell. Our house lies beyond the Municipal range in Trivandrum, Kerala. In this area, people in stand-alone houses burn their household waste in the open.

This practice is so prevalent that it can potentially be a major air pollution issue.

Further, it is not so only in the areas outside the Municipal range. Even in the main city, this practice is followed. Even though it is an age-old practice to burn waste in the open, the issue becomes serious in today’s times as waste has a dangerous mix of wet items and plastics, among others. When burnt in open conditions, it releases gases and particles – it can adversely affect the respiratory system and contribute to global warming, respectively.

The more the practice is followed, the more implications it will have for public health as well as environment. It needs to be replaced by an alternative waste management strategy.

The question is that how can individuals be convinced to change to an eco-friendly waste management way?  The municipal corporations or gram panchayats need to step in.

Waste segregation, and thereafter, collection and disposal, is the way out. A ‘carrot and stick policy’ will help.

While the first step needs to be performed at the household level, the remaining two steps must be performed by public sector, private sector, or both.

Both, public and environmental health need to be accorded top priority.

When the national emphasis is rightly placed on “Swachh Bharat”, thanks to our PM, we need to have a “Swachh Trivandrum” as well.

Delhi Smog 2017 – What we need to know?

It is very much in news, and yet people out there, seem to be ignorant about it.

What is it? Illegal crop burning in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana, vehicle exhaust emissions in a city with limited public transport, and swirling construction dust have caused the crisis, which arises every year. (NDTV, November 9, 2017)

Delhi pollution level

Air quality index (AQI) at 7.30 am, November 9, was recorded at 468 (Severe category)

These steps have been taken so far:

Source: Economic Times, Nov 9, 2017

  1. The Delhi government has brought back odd-even plan to check rising pollution level in the capital. It will be implemented from Nov 13 and will end on Nov 17, and like last time two-wheelers and women drivers will be exempt.
  2. National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned construction and industrial activities in Delhi-NCR till November 14 , 2017.
  3. NGT has also directed directs civic bodies to constitute teams to ensure there is no burning of waste in Delhi-NCR. The green panel has also asked authorities to implement EPCA’s directions to improve ambient air quality.
  4. It has also directed sprinkling of water where PM 10 is found to be in excess of 600 micrograms per cubic metre.
  5. Schools in Delhi and Punjab remain shut till Sunday.

Source: Hindustan Times, Nov 9, 2017

  1. Environment ministry forms seven-member committee to monitor short-term and long-term solutions to air pollution, reports PTI (5:48 PM today)
  2. The odd even scheme will be implemented from 8 am to 8 pm.
  3. Banning trucks and closing schools have been taken in response to the worsening Delhi air quality.

Source: The Hindu, Nov 9, 2017

  1. Hike in parking fee by four times has been done to discourage own vehicle use.
  2. Issuing a slew of directions as immediate measures to control pollution in Delhi-NCR, the Delhi High court banned felling of trees, ordered sprinkling of water on roads to control dust and strict enforcement of construction code to ensure that the air is not polluted further.

Source :NDTV, November 9, 2017

  1.  A Delhi government advisory has urged anyone with breathing difficulties to remain indoors and said everyone should avoid strenuous activity.
  2. PM 2.5 is particulate matter about 30 times finer than a human hair. The particles
    delhi-smog1

    Delhi Smog 2017 (Source: Indian Express, November 9, 2017)

    can be inhaled deep into the lungs, causing heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and respiratory diseasesDelhi registered levels of over 600 today – 12 times over the safe limit.

Source : Indian Express, November 9, 2017

  1. The National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) has sent notices to the Centre and the governments of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana in view of “life-threatening” pollution levels in the national capital and nearby regions. The rights panel criticised authorities for not taking proper steps to tackle the “hazard”, amounting to violation of right to life and health.

How to protect oneself from the harmful effects of smog?

Source: Economic Times, November 9, 2017

Indian Medical Association declared a ‘public health emergency’ in Delhi on November 7, 2017.

  •  Avoid cardio workout
  • Get the right mask – Get a respirator that is rated N95/N99/FFP3 or is ‘NIOSH Approved’ that filters out more than 95% of particles (larger than 0.3 microns)
  • Stay hydrated
  • Don’t ignore sustained symptoms – Keep the allergy kit ready with required medicines, inhalers and nebulisers if you have a family member with respiratory illness.
  • Invest in an air purifier
  • Plant some natural air purifiers in your surroundings, like Aloe Vera and Spider Plant which suck up all the pollutants
  • Consult doctor if symptoms persist – Exposure to bad air quality may lead to initial symptoms like coughing, irritation in eyes and nose, sore throat, asthma or wheezing, and tiredness. But prolonged exposure may have serious consequences on health causing stroke, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even lung cancer. Asthmatic patients should carry their inhalers at all time.

Stay informed, stay protected.

This information has been taken from reliable sources. Therefore, it would be nice if you share it further.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

‘Smoke’ in Mumbai air – Why and what it means for us!

(Please note the image above is indicative and does not specifically relate to Mumbai)

Startling it may be for most of us who live here in Mumbai. but we may be ignoring it in our daily chores – Whenever we check weather for the city (in any app – Google, Lenovo, iPhone), it shows temperature etc. and…’Smoke’. Why are we forced to breathe in smoke, day in and day out?

I just went through related posts on the Web.

Reasons range from burning trash, vehicular pollution, using coal for cooking, occasional big dump yard fires, industrial emissions and so on. All of this can be curbed with proper awareness and regulations.

If this continues,  what are the implications for Mumbaikars?

“…Industrial smog can in fact create major health risks, including asthma, lung tissue damage, bronchial infections and heart problems.” (Dawn, 2016)

“…Smog can irritate the eyes and throat and also damage the lungs—especially of people who work or exercise outside, children, and senior citizens. It’s even worse for people who have asthma or allergies—these extra pollutants only intensify their symptoms and can trigger asthma attacks.”(NRDC, 2016)

Also, carbon dioxide, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, which are major air pollutants, also aggravate ‘Global Warming’ and ‘Climate Change’.(NRDC, 2016)

Can we take the first step and acknowledge the problem?

Next, we can try find out the different reasons behind the air pollution.

Finally, we can try on different ways to get the air pollution reduced…!

Let’s do something about this.Thanks for reading!

References:

Dawn, 2016 – http://www.dawn.com/news/1159190

NRDC, 2016 – https://www.nrdc.org/stories/air-pollution-everything-you-need-know

Can We Do it – A Cleaner & Safer Diwali?

Some intuitive ways of celebrating a “Cleaner, safer and Fun Diwali” – Prayers, Sweets, meeting family members and friends, holidays and…

  • Minimizing use of fire-crackers, especially those which produce lots of smoke and noise
  • Resisting the need to over-buy – better for pockets of ourselves and Mother Nature
  • Resist over-lighting – after all, power is precious…

Can we do it? This is the question to all of us Indians. Diwali, the big festival of India, has in recent history, been associated with massive bursting of crackers, and massive pollution of air, soil and water as an aftermath. It is something which we have seen through our own eyes, in most of our lifetime.

diwali-pollution-2diwali-pollution-1

Courtesy: Pumirror.com, The Hindu

However, if we pretend we do not know about it, here are some news reports of Diwali last year.

On Diwali night, India gasped for breath – http://www.thehindu.com/data/pollution-on-diwali-night/article7872344.ece, November 13, 2015

The level of pollution reaches ‘severe’ in several cities of India where healthy people also start getting affected, leave alone people with pre-existing conditions.

Diwali: Delhi pollution ‘hits hazardous levels’ – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-34795305, November 12, 2015

Pollution in Delhi during Diwali: The harmful pollutants and their result on human lives – http://indiatoday.intoday.in/education/story/pollution-during-diwali/1/518634.html, November 7, 2015

Is that the only and best way to celebrate – by choking ourselves & our fellow people? That too, when the environmental balance is getting more and more fragile by the day? Can we have a “cleaner  & safer  Diwali”, this time?

diwali