STATE OF GLOBAL AIR REPORT 2018
According to the State of Global Air report 2018, 95% of the world’s population, live in areas of unhealthy air ; an area where the air quality does not meet the World Health Organization’s healthy air guideline, which is PM2.5.Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death worldwide.
Three separate metrics contribute to overall air pollution : particles in the outdoor air, the ozone levels and household air pollution generated from activities like cooking and heating;
The report said long-term exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to 6.1 million premature deaths from stroke, heart attack, lung cancer, and chronic lung disease. That makes air pollution the 4th highest cause of death among all health risks, exceeded only by high blood pressure, diet, and smoking;
China and India together were responsible for over half of the total global deaths attributable to air pollution, a new study has said;
The study also finds that increasing exposure and a growing and aging population have meant that India now rivals China for among the highest air pollution health burdens in the world, with both countries facing some 1.1 million early deaths from outdoor air pollution in 2016;
LEARNING WITH TIMES
PM2.5 means particulate matter in the air – caused by motor exhaust or anything combustible – that is less than 2.5 micrometers.WHO’s air quality guidelines state that by reducing particulate matter (PM10) from 70 to 20 micrograms per cubic metre, air pollution-related deaths could be reduced by roughly 15 per cent. WHO safe limits for annual mean of PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels are 10 and 20 micrograms per cubic metre,
INDIA’S STANDARD FOR LEVEL OF POLLUTION
India has set standards for what it thinks are appropriate warnings for a particular level of pollutant. AQI help in comparing pollution levels at a glance with a colour code and a numerical value. In India, AQIs are determined based on the concentrations of seven pollutants, including PM2.5 (fine, respirable particles), sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO).
There are six AQI categories, namely: Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very poor and Severe.
The Index is centred around five chief pollutants – Particulate Matter with a diameter less than 10 micrometres (PM10), Particulate Matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), ozone (O3), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), and Carbon Monoxide (CO).
Carbon monoxide is a gas and is found in air. High levels of carbon monoxide are poisonous to humans. Natural sources of carbon monoxide include volcanoes and bushfires.The main sources of additional carbon monoxide are motor vehicle exhaust and some industrial activities, such as making steel. Increased levels of carbon monoxide reduce the amount of oxygen carried by haemoglobin around the body in red blood cells. The result is that vital organs, such as the brain, nervous tissues and the heart, do not receive enough oxygen to work properly.
Nitrogen dioxide is a nasty-smelling gas. Some nitrogen dioxide is formed naturally in the atmosphere by lightning and some is produced by plants, soil and water. Nitrogen dioxide is an important air pollutant because it contributes to the formation of photochemical smog, which can have significant impacts on human health. The main effect of breathing in raised levels of nitrogen dioxide is the increased likelihood of respiratory problems.
Sulfur dioxide is a gas. It is invisible and has a nasty, sharp smell. It reacts easily with other substances to form harmful compounds, such as sulfuric acid, sulfurous acid and sulfate particles.About 99% of the sulfur dioxide in air comes from human sources. The main source of sulfur dioxide in the air is industrial activity that processes materials that contain sulfur, eg the generation of electricity from coal, oil or gas that contains sulfur. Sulfur dioxide is also present in motor vehicle emissions, as the result of fuel combustion. Sulfur dioxide irritates the nose, throat, and airways to cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or a tight feeling around the chest.
Airborne particles are sometimes referred to as ‘particulate matter’ or ‘PM’. They include dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Some particles are emitted directly into the air from a variety of sources that are either natural or related to human activity. Natural sources include bushfires, dust storms, pollens and sea spray. Those related to human activity include motor vehicle emissions, industrial processes (eg electricity generation, incinerators and stone crushing), unpaved roads and woodheaters. Particles can be classified on the basis of their size, referred to as their ‘aerodynamic diameter’. ‘Coarse particles’ are those between 10 and 2.5 micrometres (µm) in diameter; ‘fine particles’ are smaller than 2.5 µm; and ‘ultrafine particles’ are smaller than 0.1 µm. Studies have linked exposure to particle pollution to a number of health problems including respiratory illnesses (such as asthma and bronchitis) and cardiovascular disease.
Lead (or Pb in the periodic table) is a naturally occurring heavy metal that is found in the Earth’s crust. Lead can be released into soil, air and water through soil erosion, volcanic eruptions, sea spray and bushfires. Lead is a health hazard. It is stored in your bones and teeth, and may damage parts of your body, including your liver, kidneys and brain. Exposure to lead can affect the health of children, unborn babies and adults. Once in the body, lead circulates in the blood.
Ozone is one of the main photochemical oxidants. Photochemical oxidants are formed when sunlight falls on a mixture of chemicals in the air. Ozone is a gas that is formed when nitrogen oxides react with a group of air pollutants known as ‘reactive organic substances’ in the presence of sunlight. The chemicals that react to form ozone come from sources such as: motor vehicle exhaust, oil refining, printing, petrochemicals, lawn mowing, aviation, bushfires and burning off. Ozone can irritate the lining of the nose, airways and lungs. People who are exposed to enough ozone might feel some pain in their ears, eyes, nose and throat, and they might start to cough. Chest pains can also occur in some people. People with asthma might have more attacks and athletes might find it harder to perform as well as usual.
TO REDUCE AIR POLLUTION:
Use public mode of transportation: Encourage people to use more and more public modes of transportation to reduce pollution. Also, try to make use of car pooling; implementing national fuel quality standards and supporting the implementation of tighter vehicle emission standards
Conserve energy: Switch off fans and lights when you are going out. Large amount of fossil fuels are burnt to produce electricity. One can save the environment from degradation by reducing the amount of fossil fuels to be burned.
Understand the concept of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: Do not throw away items that are of no use to you. In-fact reuse them for some other purpose. For e.g. you can use old jars to store cereals or pulses.
Emphasis on clean energy resources: Clean energy technologies like solar, wind and geothermal are on high these days. This will go a long way to curb air pollution.
Use energy efficient devices: CFL lights consume less electricity as against their counterparts. They live longer, consume less electricity, lower electricity bills and also help you to reduce pollution by consuming less energy.
Steps to convert the waste into useful products such as enriched fodder, biogas, biofuel, compost.
Easy access to cheap solar cookers and biogas plants will also cut open burning, and help the rural economy.
To supply affordable seeder machinery in sufficient numbers to eliminate the need to remove the straw.