As per WHO, 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants and around 7 million people die every year from exposure to this polluted air. Will the lockdown induced site of a calm and serene environment (once hazy?) And the presence of cleaner and fresh air helps us build the exquisite world we want to live in after the pandemic or will this sightful experience be short-lived.
It is all up to us to decide if we want to take the lessons that mother earth offered us or we decide to continue being ignorant of the kind of air we breathe in and keep harming our environment. Air pollution is a type of environmental pollution that makes the air dirty, unhealthy and reduces its quality with the presence of harmful gases and other particles in the atmosphere (mainly oxides of carbon, sulphur and nitrogen). AQI that is Air Quality Index Is the tool used to measure the quality of air in a certain area.
The higher the AQI, the higher is the pollutants in the air, which makes us and the entire environment polluted, disrupting the functioning of nature. Along with the various hazards it causes to the health of human beings, it also causes a great deal of harm to our environment. Some of which are following, listed by Norvergence.
Some of which are:-
Acid rain is any form of precipitation (dry or wet) falling to the ground from the atmosphere with the presence of acidic components i.e. sulphur or nitric acid. This includes rain, snow, fog, hail or even acidic dust). These harmful particles from acid rain get accumulated on the various surfaces (water bodies, buildings and vegetation) and causes harm to the soils, ground water, drinking water, wildlife, and aquatic-ecosystems and causes ocean acidification.
Acid rain also harms forests productivity, agricultural products and also the cultural resources such as historical buildings, sculptures and statues. One such example is Taj Mahal (for the first time in history, Taj Mahal healed itself during lockdown, which makes us question our irresponsible behavior towards the environment).
Photochemical smog which is more common in urban areas with populated vehicles on streets is formed when the sunlight reacts with the nitrogen oxides(released by automobiles) in the atmosphere and forms the harmful gas ozone .This photochemical reaction has a visible light brown color and highly damages the plants and agricultural produce and hampers our visibility too.
Global Climate Change is mainly caused by the combustion of fossil fuels. This burning of fossil fuels releases harmful substances that are carbon dioxide and methane as greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which then traps the solar radiations near the earth surface and ultimately raises the average temperature of earth’s climate system commonly known as global warming.
Deforestation also contributes to the emission of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as plants release the stored up CO2 in the atmosphere when they die. This global climate change leads to the melting of ice sheets, glaciers, increased ocean temperatures which causes rise in sea levels. Along with hazards to human health, it also hampers forest and agricultural productivity by reducing the survivability of seeds, reduces growth and making plants more vulnerable to pests and diseases.
Eutrophication is a condition which accelerates the growth of algae in the water bodies due to the high concentrations of nutrients (nitrate or phosphate containing sewage, detergents or fertilizers).
This algae formation blocks the sunlight from reaching through it which leads to the death of the plants under the algae formed. Eventually, the bacteria decompose the remains and the water bodies become depleted of oxygen ultimately leading to the death of aquatic creatures.
Aerosol formation is the presence of dusty particles in the atmosphere formed due to burning of fossil fuels, automobile emissions and dust from agricultural activities. These droplets or dust particles in the atmosphere affect the planet’s climate.
Ozone depletion simply refers to the depletion of a good ozone layer in the stratosphere which absorbs the harmful UV rays of the sun. This depletion occurs due to the release of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydro chlorofluorocarbons and halons in the atmosphere and reduces the radiation absorbing capacity of ozone and makes us more vulnerable to the harmful UV radiation.
These CFCs are formed when burning plastic or rubber products, usage of coolants such as gases from refrigerators, chemical fertilizers and usage of other aerosols. This affects the agricultural productivity, life cycle of plants thereby affecting the entire life chain.
Norvergence: What causes this balance in nature:-
Vehicular emissions: The increasing population leads to increase in the number of vehicles on road. These vehicles produced several harmful gases and pollutants which highly deteriorated the air quality.
Wildfires emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that will continue to warm the planet well into the future. They damage forests that would otherwise remove CO2 from the air. And they inject soot and other aerosols into the atmosphere, with complex effects on climate. (Inside climate news.org)
Rapid industrialisation: Various types of industrial sites such as factories, power plants, dry cleaners, chemical industries use the production processes that leads to the release of harmful toxins in the atmosphere which contributes to the increased greenhouse gas emission and global warming.
Urbanization: With more and more people shifting from rural areas to cities in search of jobs , it results into.
overcrowding and this congestion of people in a certain area gives birth to other problems such as insufficient resources for trash disposal, sewage system and increased transportation on the roads which ultimately contributes to the deadly air pollution.
Norvergence: How to contribute in keeping air fresh:
- Limited use of personal vehicles and use more public transport.
- Discard old vehicles.
- Frequent maintenance of vehicles such as replacing car filters and renewal of car pollution.
- Plant trees to decrease CO2 from the atmosphere.
- Recycle paper, plastic, glass bottles and aluminum tins. They reduce industrial emissions.
- Use canvas bags instead of paper and Plastic.
- Don’t smoke cigarettes.
- Use energy star/efficient appliances.
Breathe fresh and let the earth do the same.