Air Pollution : A Silent Killer

Air pollution occurs when harmful gases or excessive quantities of any physical, chemical or biological substances are introduced into the earth’s atmosphere. The effects of air pollution wreck havoc on human health and our planet as a whole. This air pollution is a silent killer and the root cause of it is an ever-increasing population, industrialization and other anthropogenic activities. The release of poisonous gases and other dangerous elements from such sources is affecting the environment. Industrialization and advancement in technology always had a single goal in mind - to simplify our lives help save time and energy. To achieve this goal we blindly cause damage to mother nature. Air pollution is a consequence of our ignorance.

Air pollution is mainly divided into two parts i.e. outdoor air pollution and indoor air pollution. Industrialization, increased use of automobiles, deforestation, etc. are some major sources of outdoor pollution. Coal-fired power plants contribute to 50% of this problem; Vehicular emissions contribute to about 25%. Adding to this is indoor air pollution. It occurs due to exposure to pollutants carried by the indoor air. Examples include gases, Household products, chemicals, mold, and pollen. Household air pollution causes about 3.8 million premature deaths every year. the vast majority of them are in the developing world, and about 60% of those are among women and children.

The United Nations has given us a fair warning that a large number of people on the planet today are breathing in polluted air. This has led to a global health crisis that causes about 7 million deaths per year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Simply put, air pollution kills about 800 people every hour or 13 people every minute. Shockingly, 44% of school children in Delhi had reduced lung function compared to children in other Indian cities. 93% of children worldwide live in areas where air pollution exceeds the WHO guidelines.

The list of effects keep increasing each day, but how do we tackle this problem? Indoor air pollution can be reduced by making sure that a building is well-ventilated and cleaned regularly to prevent the build-up of agents like dust and mold. It would be wise to remove any known pollutants like aerosols, stringent cleaning supplies, etc. whenever possible. Outdoor air pollution can be tackled by checking the Air Quality Index. Switching to a public mode of transport instead of private vehicles helps reduce traffic. Promote afforestation as much as possible.

It is heartbreaking to see that even after so many warnings from nature itself, we still haven’t learned our lesson and continue to cause damage. Yes, the awareness about the climate crisis is widespread, but let’s ask ourselves today, have we taken it seriously? Are we really making efforts to help reduce the damage and make our environment healthy again? Answering these questions will bring us one step closer to winning the battle against climate change. So why don’t we take this step today and prepare ourselves to win this battle tomorrow!

Ishani Mehta, Programme Assistant