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NASA aerial image of India

The clear blue skies over the national capital may go dark soon with dust and smoke as the stubble burning season nears. The satellite images by US space agency NASA have shown that crop residue burning has already started in several fields in Haryana and Punjab, according to media reports.

Punjab annually generates 20 million tonnes of paddy straw, which is normally set on fire to quickly clear the fields for the next crop, resulting in choking of the National Capital Region (NCR) in October and November, and causing major health effects.

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Photo by Kobby Mendez on Unsplash

There is no exaggeration in saying that Covid-19 has literally taken over our lives.

By Himanshu Agarwal

There is no exaggeration in saying that Covid-19 has literally taken over our lives. Whether vaccinated or not, most of us are still living in the shadow of fear and anxiety. In fact with breakthrough infections showing up for some, even the vaccinated do not feel completely safe from a possible assault of the virus. The finding that the virus can be airborne is scary enough, research also shows that the transmission of the coronavirus is higher indoors than outdoors. This means that even if you don't step out and think that the virus can't get to you because you are ensconced safely and comfortably indoors, the bad news is that you can still get infected.

So, what should you do to keep the virus at bay while being confined indoors? While taking other precautions, keeping the indoor air sanitized, and constantly so, is one big answer to this.

Indoor aerosols a carrier of coronavirus
Unlike the earlier dominant belief that only respiratory droplets could spread infection, it has been established now that the tiny aerosols in the air can carry the coronavirus. These aerosols which are smaller and lighter than respiratory droplets can not only stay longer in the air but also carry the virus farther and for a longer time. The assumption that only by making contact with a contaminated surface one can get the virus, is no more valid.

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WMO chief of Atmospheric and Environment research division Oksana Tarasova attends a press conference Nov. 25, 2019, in Geneva

GENEVA - In the first report of its kind, the World Meteorological Organization examines the close link between air quality and climate change and how measures stemming from COVID-19 influenced air quality patterns in 2020.

Government-imposed lockdown measures and travel restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19 resulted in a marked improvement in air quality in many parts of the world. For example, the WMO said Southeast Asia experienced a 40% reduction in air particles in 2020.

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Millions and millions of people live in environments with elevated CO levels. Pixabay

A team of researchers has found that even a slight increase in ambient carbon monoxide levels from automobiles and other sources is associated with increased mortality. The study, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, also found that even short-term exposure to ambient carbon monoxide (CO) — at levels below the current air quality guidelines and considered safe — had an association with increased mortality.

“These findings have significant public health implications,” said researcher Kai Chen, Assistant Professor from Yale University in the US. “Millions and millions of people live in environments with elevated CO levels and in environments where the CO levels are within the current guidelines considered ‘safe range,” Chen added.

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