Is there really a Practical Solution to North India’s Smog Problem?)

The occurrence of smog in North India has made it a living chimney. The condition of the people here is as good as those smoking cigarettes. Everyone living in North India is suffering due to this problem, especially Delhi, Noida and the areas surrounding these places. Schools are closed every now and then. Odd-even schemes are implemented by the government to promote the usage of public transport in Delhi. When the smog situation worsens, government also orders that all construction work be stopped for a few days. The metres in Delhi read how the air is poisonous, and is becoming even more poisonous; and Delhites can do nothing but watch those metres. Very unhealthy air has people living under emergency circumstances, wearing masks, buying bottles of oxygen when hospitalized, and what not. The hue and cry about this smog also has some meetings organized by government authorities who discuss in ‘closed chambers’ how the problem is affecting the public.

No serious step has been taken to combat this problem; it becomes worse each year. Nobody seems to realise that very soon there will be massive lists of people fleeing or dying because of this smog-it is not a news story any more. It should be the priority of the government and the people to deal with this problem. Aerosols are at the core of environmental problems, such as smog and poor air quality. People have been aware of the health hazard of exposure to polluted air. It is only relatively recently that there has been increased awareness of the possible health effects of vehicular pollution. Particles in the atmosphere have important effects on both air pollution and climate. The role of particulate pollution in the air is associated with adverse health effects such as increased morbidity and mortality. Long exposure to particulate air pollution is associated with chronic health outcomes.

In recent years, the application of the air purifier has been developed rapidly. However, the delimitation on the performance of related products such as the so-called “Clean Air Delivery Rate” remains to be improved further. Improvement to a certain extent can be realized with air purifier to reduce the harmful effect from indoor air pollution and smog. But how long can you sit inside? There’s a limit to the usage of air purifier, and even its usage does not prevent largely the harmful effect of smog that is present in the air outside. Air purifier reduces the airborne pollutants indoors which mainly include particles. Smog clouds, common in many large cities, can have a dramatic effect on people suffering from respiratory issues, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. Exposure to fumes, gases, or dust in the workplace is responsible for a large number of asthma cases. You can’t use an air purifier outside, can you?

Concerns are driven by frequent media reports of issues with air quality, drinking water, and food contamination, coupled with visible signs of problems, such as smog in many large cities. Individuals may be worried about exposure to environmental contaminants during outdoor exercise, such as running or jogging, particularly in urban environments. Parents may have concerns about the impact of pollution on a child or other family member, such as an elderly parent whose health makes them sensitive to environmental factors. The composition of urban smog varies markedly among urban areas so that each urban area requires separate monitoring and analysis of the characteristics, causes, and severity of its smog problems. What we need is cost-effective control of smog in Northern India. But, even if it is a bit costly to implement measures to control the smog problem, it is worth it because there is no cost of human lives; those human lives which are being lost on this account.

The one thing that has to be done on a massive scale, by the people, by the government, by everyone who feels a responsibility towards their planet, or at least those who wish to live, is to plant trees-as many as possible-wherever possible-whenever possible. The trees are what can restore some balance to the air contamination problem; this greenery is the cure to the blackness in air. In most affected areas, health agencies issued air pollution advisories. Very strict rules should be made and implemented to ensure that any industry producing smoke has it filtered and collected such that the smoke is not let out in the open air. Dust, soot, smoke, and other suspended matter are respiratory irritants, and all their industrial sources as well as other major sources such as vehicles and other products emitting harmful gases need to be modelled to not give out harmful air borne suspended particulate matter.

Factories pour black smoke into the air. Electrostatic precipitators should be used to remove particulates that aggravate asthma and cause respiratory problems for people by charging particles with an electrical field and then capturing them on collection plates. Wet scrubbers should also be used; they remove sulfur dioxide. Low nitrogen oxide burners should be used to reduce the creation of nitrogen oxides. Travel in personal cars must be made more efficient. Incorporating more biofuels into the transportation sector would also help. Government needs to be involved—national, state, county, city, and community. Official planning must be put in place. Enhancing public transportation and creating walking bicycling areas are also steps in the right direction. Regardless of the vast amount of knowledge on the causes of smog and the tremendous development of control technology, effective countermeasures are slow to be implemented. It is a basic human right to enjoy ‘clean air’, and everyone must take steps to achieve this goal.

The government needs to implement an effective emission control programme with the active assistance of local industry and administration. Smoke and soot regulation laws need to be made, establish emission standards and air monitoring programs. Every plant in an industrial category should be forced to install pollution control equipment. Public health needs to be monitored. Exposure to unsafe levels of pollution is especially harmful to children. Breathing in the smog and getting hospitalised is the proof of the erosion of government’s role in protecting public health and the environment. Smog is but one problem that can only be solved when the threatening air pollution levels in North India especially are addressed to actually save the lives of billions who cannot afford air purifiers, who merely depend on the government to address public health issues. ‘How much pollution people are willing to tolerate’ is a question that only they can answer.

To achieve more effective outcomes in terms of air quality something has to be done which has not been done till now, because if these measures were effective, North India would not be facing this problem. The choking smog will kill the people, hundreds will die and perhaps then the government will really come into action; perhaps then the people will realise that firecrackers should not have been burnt on Diwali; perhaps then they will realise that carpooling could’ve saved the lives of their friends! People have become accustomed to thick smog, and when they become accustomed to something they do not fight back or try to improve the situation. Industries and cities have several hurdles to overcome. As new technologies become more advanced, implemented, and affordable, shifts need to be made to cleaner, sustainable, renewable energy sources that do not have a negative impact on the environment-that do not leave the North Indian skies full of smog.


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