Delhi Air pollution: Lessons India can learn from China

Since China had to deal with a similar situation and they managed to deal with it efficiently, India can follow China’s war against pollution policies

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Polluted Delhi Air. VOA

November 6, 2016: The Capital city of India faces the worst smog in 17 years, and it is worsening day by day but the authorities are yet to devise a proper action plan in order to tackle such a serious problem.

Since China had to deal with a similar situation and they managed to deal with it efficiently, India can follow China’s war against pollution policies.
Here are the few measures China took:

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Here are the few measures China took to counter Pollution in their country:

Red alert

In 2015, in the month of December Beijing issued its first ‘red alert’ for high pollution and shut down schools, construction sites, factories and an odd-even rule were applied to private cars until the quality of air dropped below the hazardous levels. People were also urged to wear masks and take all kinds of protective measures.

Imposing Laws

On January 1, 2015, China’s Environmental Protection Law came into force. Before the amendment took place, the cost of compliance was much higher than the cost of noncompliance.

According to Jonesday.com report, “The average cost of noncompliance under the ECL was less than 10 percent of the cost of environment rectification. Thus, polluters strategically chose payment of penalties over compliance for the obvious economic benefits.” In order to address the problem, EPL established a new penalty process, according to which the penalties are to be calculated on a daily basis until the rectification is completed.

In 2015, the country also appointed an environmental scientist as its Environment Minister.

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Online air reporting system

After China came to know about their hazardous quality of air, China created an online air reporting system to monitor the hourly air pollution data from over 1,500 sites which included the details of airborne particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide.

Currently, the government regularly also releases air quality rankings for the cities.

Off the road

By 2017, high-polluting vehicles will be taken off the roads. Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and other large Chinese cities are slowly restricting the number of vehicles in order to curb air pollution.

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By 2017, Beijing region is also aiming to reduce the use of coal by replacing it with electricity from non-fossil fuels and natural gas. It also aims to close all excess iron, cement, steel, and all heavy industries that burn coal. By 2020 the city aims to be completely coal-free.

– by Pinaz Kazi of NewsGram. Twitter: @PinazKazi

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Risk of Multiple Sclerosis High in Urbanites due to Air Pollution

Air pollution could be a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) among urbanites, says researcher

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Pollution
Air pollution may up multiple sclerosis risk in urbanites. Pixabay

Air pollution could be a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), say researchers, adding that MS risk was 29 per cent higher among people residing in urbanised areas.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves. Whilst MS can be diagnosed at any age, it frequently occurs between the ages of 20-40 and is more frequent in women.

Symptoms can change in severity daily and include fatigue, walking difficulty, numbness, pain and muscle spasms. The study, presented at the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Virtual Congress, detected a reduced risk for MS in individuals residing in rural areas that have lower levels of air pollutants known as particulate matter (PM).

According to the researchers, it is well recognised that immune diseases such as MS are associated with multiple factors, both genetic and environmental. “We believe that air pollution interacts through several mechanisms in the development of MS and the results of this study strengthen that hypothesis,” said study lead researcher Professor Roberto Bergamaschi from the IRCCS Mondino Foundation in Italy.

Particulate matter (PM) is used to describe a mixture of solid particles and droplets in the air and is divided into two categories. PM10 includes particles with a diameter of 10 micrometres of smaller and PM2.5 which have a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or smaller.  Both PM10 and PM2.5 are major pollutants and are known to be linked to various health conditions, including heart and lung disease, cancer and respiratory issues.

Pollution
Air pollution could be a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis. Pixabay

The analysis was conducted in the winter, given that this is the season with the highest pollutant concentrations, in the north-western Italian region of Lombardy, home to over 547,000 people.

For the findings, the research team included over 900 MS patients within the region, and MS rates were found to have risen 10-fold in the past 50 years, from 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 1974 to almost 170 cases per 100,000 people today. Whilst the huge increase can partly be explained by increased survival for MS patients, this sharp increase could also be explained by greater exposure to risk factors.

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“In the higher risk areas, we are now carrying out specific analytical studies to examine multiple environmental factors possibly related to the heterogeneous distribution of MS risk”, Professor Bergamaschi said. (IANS)

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Here’s How You Can Reduce Indoor Pollution and Chances of Asthma While in Lockdown

Poor Ventilation is a primary cause of Indoor pollution

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incense-stick
Indoor Air Pollution is increasing day by day while we are at home due to the lockdown. Pixabay

Indoor air pollution is a major global public health problem. According to reports, the concentration of indoor pollutants can be many times higher as compared to outdoor, primarily due to poor ventilation.

Now that people are spending most of their time indoors with the current COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures, exposure to indoor pollution becomes a major health concern, points out Dr. Prashant Chhajed, HOD-Respiratory Medicine, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi and Fortis Hospital, Mulund.

What are the causes of Indoor pollution?

Particles >10 em are usually removed at the upper airways, whereas those <10 em may be deposited in the airways and alveoli, informs the expert. Some bio-aerosols of concern in homes are indoor allergens i.e. dust mites, pet allergens, cockroaches, molds. Other common reasons of indoor pollution he underlines:

smoke
Smoke from incense sticks, dhoop, etc is a reason of indoor pollution. Pixabay

Environmental tobacco smoke

Cooking using bio mass fuel

Cleaning and renovation activities

Unvented gas and Kerosene heaters used indoors

Smoke from incense sticks, dhoop, etc.

Burning of Camphor and mosquito coils

These are of major concern for an asthma patient, as they can aggravate their asthma and lead to flare ups.

Decreasing air pollution at home to reduce the likelihood of Asthma flare ups is easy to achieve. Dr Chhajed recommends few ways to reduce indoor air pollution:

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You can reduce the likelihood of Asthma by decreasing air pollution at home. One way to achieve this is proper ventilation. Pixabay

Stop smoking

Use fragrance-free household products

Minimize carpeting in the home

Use of an exhaust hood while cooking is a must

Keep the windows open and keep the house well ventilated

Dehumidifiers and air conditioning may help prevent mold and also help to reduce dust mites, which don’t survive at humidity levels below 35%

Air purifiers or filters may help to take care of the pet dander that is light-weight and floats in air.

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Vacuum cleaning carpets and upholstery regularly can also help to reduce dust mites and dust particles

Washing bedding, cushion covers, blankets regularly helps to keep these allergens under control

Avoid burning incense sticks and dhoop at home. (IANS)

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COVID-19 Effect: Population of Birds has Surged in India

India witnesses surge in bird population amid lockdown

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birds population India
The lockdown has resulted in an increase in the population of birds in the country. Pixabay

By AAKANKSHA KHAJURIA

Due to the reduction in air and noise pollution pursuant to the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to fight the Covid-19 outbreak, the population of birds and butterflies has surged significantly across the country.

“The lockdown has resulted in an increase in the population of birds in the country. Resident birds are breeding much more than before due to less human activity, no noise and air pollution,” wildlife biologist Faiyaz Khudsar said.

Clanking of machinery in factories, buzzing of car horns and whirring of vehicular engines have now been replaced by chirping of birds in the dawn and the dusk.

birds population India
There is less human population, aircraft are grounded and no vehicles ply on the road, birds tend to increase their flight or retain their historical geographical ranges. “Lockdown is a good time for birds.” Pixabay

Khudsar, who is also the scientist in-charge at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park (YBP), said that due to the reduction in noise pollution, bird mating calls and songs are being understood by its mates clearly.

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“Vocalisation is very important. When there is less noise pollution, it is very easy for birds to express themselves. Otherwise, there are many studies which suggest that due to noise pollution, birds sometimes fail to reach their mates,” Khudsar said.

He also said that at a place where there is less human population, aircraft are grounded and no vehicles ply on the road, birds tend to increase their flight or retain their historical geographical ranges. “Lockdown is a good time for birds,” he said, smiling.

birds population India
Due to the reduction in air and noise pollution pursuant to the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to fight the Covid-19 outbreak, the population of birds and butterflies has surged significantly across the country. Pixabay

Khudsar also alluded to the effect of air pollution on butterflies and said that heavy metals emitted from the vehicles and haze increases their mortality. “Due to reduction in sulphur dioxide toxicity, flocks of ePioneer’ butterflies are flying around and are breeding more than ever before,” he said.

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Vikrant Tongad, environment conservationist and founder of Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE), expressed happiness over the increase in the population of birds and butterflies, but rued over the maintainability of the current situation post the lockdown period.

“The rosy situation we see today is part of our policies, but there is lack of implementation in the country. We should move towards green energy; people should be made aware and policies should be implemented,” Tongad suggested. (IANS)