Everyone has been worried about the serious effects of air pollution in Delhi. So we thought let’s get to the basic facts and understand why is air pollution so bad for us and what can be done about it.
What is air pollution?
Polluted air contains harmful chemicals, gases or smoke. These pollutants can be in forms of solid, liquid or harmful, mainly oxides of carbon (carbon dioxide), sulphur and nitrogen oxide. There are many kinds of air pollutions such as:
- Vehicle smoke
- Acid Rain
- Factory smoke (including power plants, oil refineries, )
- Ozone o3 layer
- Burning of fossil fuels
- Bushfires or forest fires (which are natural sources of air pollutions)
- Second hand smoking
WHO air quality recommendations call for countries to reduce their air pollution to annual mean values of 20 μg/m3(for PM10) and 10 μg/m3 (for PM25). On November 4th Delhi air pollution level is 368μg/m3 (for PM25) with the safe limit being 60μg/m3.
How can air pollution damage us?
Every year a minimum of 2.4 million people (24,00,000 people!) die due to directly effects of air pollution. The WHO estimates that more than 7 million people die to do air pollution.
Air Pollution can lead to many lung diseases, heart diseases and several other fatal diseases. Long term and short term effects of air pollution have lead researches to conclude harmful effects of air pollution have conclusively detrimental to human health.
Read more about the effects of air pollution from World Health Organization:
What can we do to keep ourselves safer?
Exposure to air pollution may be inevitable but one can do their part to minimise air pollution. If you are a smoker, avoid smoking or smoke privately to protect people around you from air pollution. Everyday our decisions can help decrease air pollution. These can include:
- Walking or cycling instead of using private cars. If your distance is far, use public transportation or group travel to reduce carbon footprint. Today we also have the option to use electric vehicles.
- Avoid burning solid fuels (including while cooking) – there are many alternatives such as electric stove.
- Wear a mask (N95 or N99) which would filter airborne particles. It is important to wear the mask correctly.
Is cancer linked to air pollution?
In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) confirmed that outdoor air pollution is a cause of cancer. Fine particles PM10 and PM2.5 are linked to lung diseases. Air pollution does not only lead to lung cancer but also increases morality risks of several diseases that damage human health.
Read more about elevated cancer risk: