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 :
- Open burning of waste
- Dust from unkempt and broken roads and muddy lanes
- 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?
- 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.
- Buyers of recyclable waste needs to be roped in to collect it from the residential and commercial units at regular intervals.
- A separate community awareness drive needs to be initiated towards reducing use of one-time plastic.
- People need to be educated on composting of wet waste.
- Municipal corporation/municipality/village panchayat needs to step in to enforce rules for stopping open burning of waste.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Posted in air pollution, Climate Change, My take, open burning, roads in india, smoke, swachh bharat mission, Waste Management
Tagged diesel, dust, exhaust, municipal corporation, notodiesel, open burning, Plastic, recycling, reduce, reuse, smoke, village panchayat, waste segregation
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.
Posted in air pollution, Climate Change, Environmental facts, My take, Sustainability, swachh bharat mission, Waste Management
Tagged carrot and stick, CORPORATION OF TRIVANDRUM, gram panchayat, Modi, municipal corporation, municipal solid waste, Narendra, PM, recycling, swachh bharat mission, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, TRIVANDRUM, waste, waste segregation
- Less than 1 per cent of Swedish household waste was sent to landfill last year or any year since 2011.
- 5 Cool Waste Management Ideas From The World That India Can Adopt
- Meet Mr Trash Wheel From USA
- Make Way For BigBelly And SmartBelly Bins From Australia
- Germany Is Showing The World How To Deal With The Plastic Menace
- Brazil Shows How To Redecorate Your House By Reusing Plastic Bottles
- Columbia Is Giving Rewards To People For Giving Back Their Plastic Waste
- Germany recycles more than any other country Germany has the best recycling rate in the world. Austria comes in second, followed by South Korea and Wales. All four countries manage to recycle between 52% and 56% of their municipal waste. Switzerland, in fifth place, recycles almost half of its municipal waste.
- Plastic Ban: What India Can Learn From Other Countries Currently, India generates around 56 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually, where Delhi alone accounts for 9,600 metric tonnes per day. Currently, cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Karwar, Tirumala, Vasco, Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab and now Madhya Pradesh to name a few have the ban on the plastic bags in place. But, its enforcement and effective implementation is an issue.
- France passed a ‘Plastic Ban’ law in 2016 to fight the growing problem of plastic pollution in the world which states all plastic plates, cups, and utensils will be banned by 2020. France is the first country to ban all the daily-usable products that are made of plastic. The law also follows a total ban on plastic shopping bags. The law aims at cutting the usage of plastic bags in the country by half by 2025.
- Rwanda, a developing country in Africa is plastic bag free since 2008.
- Sweden is following the policy of ‘No Plastic Ban, Instead More Plastic Recycling.’ There is one simple reason behind this – Sweden has world’s best recycling system. Mostly all the trash in Sweden’s system gets burned in incinerators.
- Ireland passed a plastic bag tax in 2002. Within weeks of its implementation, there was a reduction of 94 percent in plastic bag use. And, now plastic bags are widely unacceptable there.
- China instated a law in 2008 to deal with its growing plastic woes. China made it illegal for stores (small or big vendors) to give out plastic bags for free. End result, after two years of the law implementation, usage of plastic bags dropped by a whopping 50%.
Posted in Climate Change, Environment events, Sustainability, swachh bharat mission, Waste Management, world environment day
Tagged Europe, incineration, NDTV, recycling, SWachh, swachh bharat mission, sweden, waste management
I was searching for inspiration on how I can play my part for the World Environment Day, 2017 (June 5). I could not do much; however, on my visit to Trivandrum, I discovered that the society we stayed in had robust waste segregation measures in place.
Every flat of the society was allotted two garbage bins – a green and a blue one, with lids. Rules regarding waste segregation were posted in the lobby area of each of the building of the society. Wet waste needs to be put in the green bin and the ‘other wastes’ in the blue bin. Clarification was provided regarding ways of disposal of the latter which included a wide range of household waste.
Among the rules was a critical line – the non-segregated waste will ‘NOT’ be picked up by the door-to-door waste collection personnel.
I was impressed with the efficacy of the system.
Further, I decide to see what happens to the segregated waste. I was further surprised that the society complex had an in-built waste treatment system in place. I was told that while the food waste is composted, the other waste (that which cannot be recycled) is incinerated. There was a sewage treatment plant as well, all built in the basement of the building. (See the pictures below) The use of incinerator for combustion of household waste can be debated; however, recycling is definitely a safe, sustainable option.
The bottom line is that pro-active, futuristic buildings have already starting doing their bit. Waste here is treated as a ‘resource’ as food waste generates manure for the up-keeping of the park area of the building. Further, the recyclable waste fetches some revenue; and this way, the entire bulk of household waste is prevented from becoming an eye-sore in some part of the city, as well as a social and environmental nuisance (remember, gases from waste decomposition in landfills contribute to the dangerous ‘climate change’).
The Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan in India has already made ‘Waste Segregation’ a theme for this year’s World Environment Day. The real difference will be when this is done in every household and every building in our country. and our world..!
…Wishing a very happy and inspiring ‘World Environment Day’ to all!
Posted in Climate Change, Environment events, Environmental facts, Sustainability, swachh bharat mission, Waste Management
Tagged composting, Environment conservation, incineration, recycling, waste management, WED, wed 2017, world environment day
I sometimes go to obsessive levels to do something I believe in. Regarding environmental conservation, my family members sometimes point it out! Though it does not dampen my spirit and resolve to be ‘green’, I do feel the need to be a ‘smart, easy-to-follow champion’ of Greenness, rather than a ‘compulsive environment enthusiast’, if you understand where I am coming from…!
Now I want to list out all things I do on a day-to-day basis, with a view to promote sustainability…Being a home-maker, let me start from the kitchen and then move on to other activities…
- I regulate tap flow to optimize water use.
- I plug-out most of the appliances in kitchen (and elsewhere also like laptop, tv etc), after their use, and surely at night
- I try to segregate plastic and paper waste from normal household waste, and periodically, dump the collection in the appropriate recycle bins.
- If I have a choice, I pick up food items from departmental store, with basic packaging.
- For shopping, I mostly carry ‘reusable bags’ to minimize use of ‘single-use’ bags.
- Also I do bulk-shopping (weekly, fortnightly, or monthly as the need be) for non-perishables to avoid daily trips, and reduce use of shopping bags and packaging material.
- We use AC in our home only when necessary, otherwise use fans.
- We teach our little one, the importance of saving water and power and recycling waste.
Now, what do you think? Am I ‘Green enough’…obsessive…or can do more?
Thanks for reading!
Posted in My take, Waste Management
Tagged bulk shopping, Environment conservation, Green, optimum, Packaging and labeling, paper, Plastic, power, recycling, single-use bags, sustainable, waste, waste management