Air Pollution in Delhi – Reasons for the AQI rise? How to Control Air Pollution?

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Air Pollution in Delhi – The air quality in Delhi has been going from bad to worse. The Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences in October 2018 published a research paper that attributed almost 41% of PM2.5 air pollution in Delhi to vehicular emissions, 21.5% to dust and 18% to industries. 

air pollution in delhi

As a matter of fact, the AQI(Air Quality Index) in Delhi generally levels at moderate from 101-200 in the months of Jan to Sept. It has been noted that in the months of October to December, the AQI of Delhi falls down drastically to either Very Poor 301-400, or Severe 401-500 or Hazardous 500 above. Now, the causes for this rise in AQI are by factors like stubble burning, road dust, vehicle pollution, and lastly the cold weather.

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Why is Delhi so polluted? – Air Pollution in Delhi

A few years back in 1991, farmers in Punjab burnt down remnants of rice crops in their fields in preparation to sow wheat. After the fire, a smoke emerged in the air of Punjab in the months of late September and early October. Back then, farmers burnt straw and that caused difficulty in traveling to the rural areas of Punjab. The air was thick with the smoke of the burning paddy straws. So farmers delayed the burning until late in October. 

This delay is the most crucial as also the most responsible reason for the smoke in Delhi. The wind flow patterns revealed that the winds blew to Delhi from the west during monsoons but changed direction in the month of October and that is when the smoke starts blowing into Delhi from the north.

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Air Pollution in Delhi – This decision to delay cleaning of fields was never the choice of farmers but the Punjab Government simply implemented the Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act in 2009. Now, according to this law, farmers no longer have the freedom to sow rice in April and will have to compulsory wait on till June. This law was also copied by the Haryana Government.

This is when Delhi started to have more problems of being covered by smoke. Earlier Delhi was limited with vehicular and industrial pollution apart from smoke from bonfires in winters which didn’t report any envelopment of smoke in the city.

Air Pollution in Delhi – Delhi has one of the highest masses of population in the world.  This smoke from the fields in Punjab needs to treated in the right manner rather than letting it spread over a city like Delhi that is so clustered. The smoke in Punjab would not be as severe as it is in Delhi. The government needs to come up with steps to take immediate action in preventing Delhi from becoming a chamber full of gas for a few days every year in the month of November. The Monsanto Profit Act of 2009 must be rightfully revoked in order to prevent safety in the Capital.

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Which pollutants in the Air are more harmful?
Sulfur Dioxide – High amounts of Sulphur Dioxide result in breathing impairment for asthmatics that keep themselves active outdoors.
Ozone at ground level – Exposure to ozone at ground level might expose one to breathing irritably, decrease in lung function, inflame airways as also worsen lung conditions. This not only affects humans but also nature.
Lead – Exposure to pollution might lead to seizures, mental problems, and behavioral disorders. It can also lead to damage to the nervous systems of young children and toddlers.
Carbon Monoxide – CO becomes dangerous for people with cardiovascular diseases like angina.
Benzene- Benzene causes harmful effects on the bone marrow and can decrease the red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can cause leukemia, cancer of the blood-forming organs.
Particulate Matter- Exposure to particulate matter, in any concentration can be very harmful to health as it can cause mild cough, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and even premature death.
Nitrogen Oxide- Inhaling Nitrogen Oxide can decrease lung function, increases the risk of respiratory conditions and increases the response to allergens.
Persistent Organic Pollutants- POP exposure may cause developmental defects, chronic illnesses, and death. Some are carcinogens per IARC, possibly including breast cancer.[1] Many POPs are capable of endocrine disruption within the reproductive system, the central nervous system, or the immune system.
Volatile Organic Compounds- Eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination and nausea, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system.

History of Air pollution and its health effects
In 1952, nearly 12000 people from 5th to 9th December died in London. The cause for the deaths was the high amount of industrial.
London Fog – At the time, not many knew about what was Air Pollution. After the deaths of 4000 immediate deaths, they discovered that the cause of the deaths was Air pollution. Air Pollution was then caused by industrializations. Similarly, when India became independent, the growth of industrialization began along with the construction businesses that use a material that is toxic to the environment.

Facts you should know:

  • In one minute, we breathe in approximately 15 times. With each breath in, we take in 300-500 ml of gases. Now, these gases travel to our lungs and then further travel in our bodies.
  • In Delhi, the air is now starting to affect all. The pollution mainly affects our heart, brain and our immediate health.

Things to do to stay protected from air pollution in Delhi-

  • Lung cancer no 1 killer in the world. Mask necessary for lung-related patients.
  • Keep all windows closed during heavy pollution in the environment.
  • Live in an air-conditioned environment. Easier said than done. The government needs to take action.
  • Avoid walking during the early morning with Smog and replace it with a time when the sun comes out.
  • No exercise in the morning. Tidal volume increases. Instead of 15 liters, one takes in 40 liters.

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