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Firefighters of India Battle Air Pollution In The Country’s Capital

The Indian capital saw some success following a 1998-2003 program that removed power plants from the city center

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India, air pollution
An Indian Air Force soldier drinks tea as he stands guard next to rifles during a break at the rehearsal for the Republic Day parade on a cold winter morning in New Delhi, Dec. 26, 2018. VOA

Indian authorities have ordered firefighters in the capital to sprinkle water from high-rise buildings to settle dust and stop garbage fires and have banned construction activity as hazardous air quality affects millions of people.

New Delhi recorded one of the highest pollution levels of the year on Sunday with the air quality index, measuring sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, touching 450.

The air started improving Wednesday with an increase in wind speed. However, the level of PM 2.5, tiny particulate matter that can dangerously clog lungs, exceeded 320 on Thursday, more than 13 times beyond what the World Health Organization considers safe, according to the U.S. Embassy reading.

Delhi, air pollution
People take early morning walk amid smog in New Delhi, Dec. 26, 2018. In the Indian capital, the air quality hovered between severe and very poor this week posing a serious health hazard for millions of people. VOA

Diesel engines, coal plants

A government advisory asked people to avoid jogging outdoor and use masks. The government has banned diesel vehicles that are more than 10 years old. It also ordered builders to cover construction sites to stop dust enveloping the area.

“There are so many cars … there is so much dust. It all goes inside (our body). If we don’t wear a mask then we face a lot of (health) problems,” said Om Prakash, a traffic police constable wearing a protective mask on a New Delhi road.

India’s air pollution comes mostly from diesel-fuel-burning vehicles, coal-fired power plants and crop burning. It worsens in the dry winters, as winds die down and pollution pools over the Delhi plains.

Vehicular smog mixes with smoke from festival-season fireworks as well as countless illegal pyres of garbage burned by homeless migrants to stay warm as temperatures near freezing. And the construction sends up clouds of dust.

Delhi. air pollution
A man rides his bicycle in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, Dec. 26, 2018. VOA

Winter air quality poor

Vivek Chattopadhyaya, a senior program manager with New Delhi-based Center for Science and Environment, said that air quality most of the days in and around the Indian capital during the winter season was “very poor, poor and severe.”

“Delhi’s air quality, when we say improvement, what we notice is that it falls from severe to very poor days. None of the days are good, satisfactory or even moderately polluted,” he said. “We need to meet the quality standards, which are the safest standards for the people to breathe air. So that should be our target.”

Also Read: Toxic Air of Delhi Prompting People To Quit City

The Indian capital saw some success following a 1998-2003 program that removed power plants from the city center and adopted compressed natural gas, CNG, for running buses and rickshaws. The buses had run on diesel and the rickshaws on gasoline and highly polluting kerosene. Of all possible fuels, CNG releases the smallest amounts of particulate matter.

But years later the pollution levels are back up. (VOA)

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Reduction in Air Pollution May Increase Life-Expectancy: Study

Findings of a Research indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution

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Pollution
Fortunately, reducing air Pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Pixabay

Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, reviewed interventions that have reduced air pollution at its source. It looked for outcomes and time to achieve those outcomes in several settings, finding that the improvements in health were striking.

Starting at week one of a ban on smoking in Ireland, for example, there was a 13 per cent drop in all-cause mortality, a 26 per cent reduction in ischemic heart disease, a 32 per cent reduction in stroke, and a 38 per cent reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Interestingly, the greatest benefits in that case occurred among non-smokers.

“We knew there were benefits from pollution control, but the magnitude and relatively short time duration to accomplish them were impressive,” said lead author Dean Schraufnagel from the American Thoracic Society in the US.

“Our findings indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately,” Schraufnagel added.

Pollution
Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests. Pixabay

According to the researchers, In the US a 13-month closure of a steel mill in Utah resulted in reducing hospitalisations for pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis and asthma by half.

School absenteeism decreased by 40 per cent, and daily mortality fell by 16 per cent for every 100 µg/m3 PM10 (a pollutant) decrease.

Women who were pregnant during the mill closing were less likely to have premature births.

A 17-day ‘transportation strategy,’ in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Olympic Games involved closing parts of the city to help athletes make it to their events on time, but also greatly decreased air pollution.

In the following four weeks, children’s visits for asthma to clinics dropped by more than 40 per cent and trips to emergency departments by 11 per cent. Hospitalizations for asthma decreased by 19 per cent.

WHO
Findings of the Study indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately. Wikimedia Commons

Similarly, when China imposed factory and travel restrictions for the Beijing Olympics, lung function improved within two months, with fewer asthma-related physician visits and less cardiovascular mortality.

“Fortunately, reducing air pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Sweeping policies affecting a whole country can reduce all-cause mortality within weeks,” Schraufnagel said.

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Local programmes, such as reducing traffic, have also promptly improved many health measures, said the study. (IANS)