India tops world in bad air quality: Everything you need to know

India Air Pollution

According to the data released by WHO (world health organisation) in Geneva, 14 Indian cities are among the world’s 20 most polluted in terms of PM 2.5 concentration.

Here is some points to this big story:

  1. 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high level of pollutants.

  2. 7 million people die every year from exposure to polluted air.

  3. 14 Indian cities are in the list of 20 most polluted cities of the world includes New Delhi, Gurgaon, Kanpur, Gwalior, Gaya, Varanasi, Patna, Agra, Faridabad, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur.

  4. Ambient air pollution caused around 4.2 million deaths in 2016.

  5. Household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.

  6. In New Delhi, levels of the most dangerous particles in the air are sometime 10 times higher than the safe limit.

What is PM 2.5? Particulate matter are microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in earth’s atmosphere. Its subtypes include SPM (suspended particulate matter), coarse particles with a diameter between 2.5 µm and 10 µm and PM (Particulate matter), fine particles with a diameter of 2.5 µm or less.

Health implications? Due to their smaller size possess ability to penetrate deep into lungs and blood streams unfiltered causing permanent DNA mutations, heart attacks, asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems. It can also lead to premature death from heart and lung diseases.

How to reduce exposure to PM 2.5? here i am listing few steps which can reduce exposure.

  1. When outdoor PM 2.5 are elevated, going indoors may reduce exposure.

  2. Avoid activities such as Burning candles indoors or open burning outdoors that produces fine particles.

  3. Avoid strenuous activity in areas where PM level is high.

  4. Use air purifier equipped with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air filter) which can remove fine particles from air. (If its affordable).

I must say government are making efforts to fight air pollution for example India’s Pradhan Mantri Yojna an initiative to safeguard the health of women and children has provided 37 million women living below the poverty line with free LPG connections to support them to switch to clean household energy use.

Comprehensive Action Plan (CAP) specifically meant for Delhi and Delhi NCR to reduce vehicular emissions and control dust from constructions. But to combat pollution such plan should be implemented across the country.

This is a national public health crisis and we need “ serious” efforts, plan, and stringent action all over the country.

There is urgent need to ensure clean environment and healthy living as millions of lives in peril.

if we want to stop this invisible killer there should be a big step at the government level declaring war on air pollution.

Pollution-If you don’t kill it, it will kill you.

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Current Environmental Issues that Our Planet is Facing

Population explosion (1)

There is no denying fact that our environment is constantly changing so does the need to become aware of the problems surrounding it such as change in warming and cooling periods, weather pattern changes, massive influx of natural disasters and much more. As we are indiscriminately using our natural resources and fail to manage our waste, environmental condition is heading towards much worst. The events of heat waves, glaciers melting, floods have been extreme during past few years.

Our environmental condition is deteriorated to such an extent that its effect can be seen on our daily life and yet we are not concerned to save ourselves from its effects. Due to pollution, different types of natural calamities, extinction of many species create imbalance to food chain.

It is also true that only human beings are responsible for polluting environment.

Here I have listed some megatrends which present major global threats for planet earth-problems that must be solved if the world is to remain a supportive habitat for humans and other species.

Population explosion: The first and foremost emerging problem in the world is population explosion. Increased population growth results in overexploitation of our natural resources indiscriminately posing negative effect on environment and its vital elements such as air, water, fuel, food etc. Intensive agriculture to meet the requirement of food are also damaging  environment through use of chemical fertilizer, insecticide and pesticide.

Global Warming and Climate change: Huge carbon dioxide production due to increased human activities resulted in climatic changes like Global warming. Global warming leads to rising of earth surface temperature causing melting of polar ice caps, rise of sea level and unnatural patterns of natural calamities like flood, drought , change in seasons and occurrence of new diseases.

Waste Disposal: Production of an excessive amount of waste (Including nuclear waste) and garbage and its disposal into oceans, open places has tremendous health hazards. At present situation is so dangerous that not only the land area but also the sea land area is highly polluted posing harmful effects to human beings and sea living species. Mismanagement of industrial waste is the main reason for area and water pollution.

Deforestation: Destruction of forest results in increase concentration of carbon dioxide in our environment that create several types of natural disaster every year. At present frequency of disaster are increasing per year causing irrecoverable economical loss and destruction of thousands of human lives.

Not only do natural forests act as biodiversity reserves, they are also carbon sinks keeping carbon out of the atmosphere and oceans.

Urbanisation and Industrialisation: Due to increase population and need of workplace huge amount of residential area and industries are growing everywhere. The ever growing demand of land displaces natural environment consisting of flora and fauna instead of being replaced. Now a days excessive industrial set up is the main cause for air and water pollution.  A proper management of industrial growth can provide us a better output for our economy and environment.

Genetic Engineering:  Genetic modification of organism and food using biotechnology is called genetic engineering. Genetic modification of food results in increased toxins and diseases as engineered genes become dominant and resistant to antibiotics.

Invention of new viruses are now a common phenomenon. As we all have heard about Ebola virus and Jika viruses, at first are created in nature and then predominate in human body and took several lives.

Loss of biodiversity and species extinction: Human activity is leading to the extinction of species and habitats. The loss and destruction of habitat are major factors contributing to a wave of extinction of species. For example recently the death of last male northern white rhino was all over news and social media.

These species inherently deserve to exist, they also provide product and services essential to human survival.

Few mindful people are focused how we can save our planet in 2050 or how we are going to escape it and colonize another world before earth becomes inhabitable. Maybe they are getting too far and have to focus on something else. If we work hard on new technologies and change our daily lives routine and movements that have power to save the world before its too late.

There are still so many things that we can do to put a dent in what we have already done. By raising awareness through social media, advertisement, verbal communication in local community with family members, friends about the environmental issues, you can contribute to a more environmental friendly and vigilant place for you to live.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed: Mahatma Gandhi

Exposure to Urban Air pollution Affect Growing Fetus

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Nothing else can produce the joy , love an incomparable feeling that Motherhood allows. Being a mother is the most beautiful emotion in the world. It is something that has to be felt and can never be described in the words.

When baby comes to a women’s life starting from day first she came to know about her pregnancy, she tries to keep baby happiness and well being ahead of her own. Being a mom I understand that for our babies we do everything to keep them healthy and safe.

My motive of writing this article is to provide information how little negligence can affect developing fetus. As we all know pollution affects are indeed many and wide ranging. There is no doubt that excessive level of pollution are causing a lot of damage to human, animal health and environment.

Many of us already would be aware of fact that air pollution exposure to expectant mother’s can affect growing baby’s lungs and respiratory system but our concern doesn’t stop here.

The evidence that air pollutants can alter chromosomes in womb is troublesome since other studies have validated  this type of genetic alteration. Exposure to high level of pollution in  womb may lead to a type of DNA damage associated with ageing called telomere shortening.

What are Telomere? Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes like the plastic tip at the end of shoelaces. Without telomeres DNA strands become damaged and our cells can’t perform their functions.Telomere length represents our biological age. Scientific studies have confirmed the strong connection between short telomeres and cellular aging.

Affects of telomere shortening? Causes age related breakdown of cells and linked with cancer, heart disease and premature death and also contribute to behavioural and cognitive problems later in childhood. “An individual’s telomere length at birth is known to influence their risk for disease decades later during adulthood,” said Deliang Tang , Professor at the Columbia University  in the US.

Ways to minimise the risk of exposure:

  • to be moms can’t easily change the place where they live or work but can avoid directly inhaling exhaust (PAHs) from cars on busy streets or smoke from fireworks.
  • pay attention to the outdoor air quality warnings. if there is warning in your area stay indoors.
  • air quality is worse in the afternoon.  refrain from any physical activity at that time or plan for alternate times.
  • avoid areas of burning fuels.
  • use mask wherever possible.
  • talk to your doctor if you live in high risk area.

even the reduction of exposure from moderately high to moderate level would have a positive effect on developing fetus.

There is need of policymakers at central, state, local level to take appropriate steps to protect our children from these avoidable exposures.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” ― Gautama Buddha

Let the Future breathe

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Tuesday 17 January The Supreme court warned that the problem of air pollution is very serious and solutions need to be found urgently, rather than in year.

According to WHO survey 90% of world is breathing bad air, silently killing more than 6 million a year, which is more than 11.6% of all global deaths. In general 9 out of 10 people globally are breathing poor quality air and Delhi ranks the 11th most pollluted city in the world.

Recent air pollution data derived from satellite imagery suggests that the severe levels of particulate matter seen in Delhi are also found throughout the 22 districts of the National Capital Region (NCR). These findings raise alarm about potentially serious adverse effects on the health and livelihoods of NCR residents outside of Delhi. Air pollution levels in other Indian cities such as lucknow , Varansai have been equally extreme in recent days. It emphasised that the country needs stronger measures, plans, coherent policies and its implementation to cut back the air pollution sources as air pollution moves across borders and cant be contained.

The green body said that India’s pollution levels have been rising at an “alarming” rate as coal consumption almost doubled and oil consumption increased 60 per cent from 2005 to 2015. The situation goes worst as most of the cities in India lack real time monitoring means government is unable to warn the inhabitants about the rising pollution so that they can prevent themselves. We can conceive its severity from a analysis which says “India’s air is more deadly than china”.

Most effected category from rising pollution level are childrens. With every breath, they are suffering. Due to their physiology as they breathe twice as fast as adults taking in more pollutants adversely effecting the growth rate and immune system.

I can only hope that time for talking would be over soon and there will be stringent actions and its implementation.

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it- robert swan