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PM 2.5 And O3 Exposure Is Killing India

By Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava

08 June, 2016

According to a recent report `Premature Mortalities due to PM 2.5 (finer particulate matter) and Ozone Exposure in India' prepared by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), the life expectancy in the country is severely affected by the PM 2.5 and O3 exposure. There is huge fall in the life expectancy as the deaths due to these air pollutants have affected most the Uttar Pradesh, population wise the largest state in the country, also a dirty state because dirt is a common phenomenon with unrestricted roaming of pigs and other animals in several areas, the maximum people i.e. about 15% die premature, followed by Maharashtra where 10% people die every year out of country's deaths because of pollution. West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu , Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh , Orissa and Rajasthan are also adversely affected.

The national capital is also affected, where life expectancy has declined by 6.4 years. It means people are dying 6.4 years before the normal life span. Although the capital city is considered a developed metropolis with modern facilities but truth lies somewhere else. The major causes of such deaths are due to air pollution in which the PM 2.5 and O3 are major culprits.

PM 2.5 is very notorious particulate matter which finds entry in our body from the respiratory system. These are mainly produced by the vehicular exhausts thus major cause is more mobility of the cars and other vehicles on the roads. These particulate matter are collected with dust and enter the body system. PM 2.5 is also produced due to candle burning hence the birthday party needs to be celebrated with no candle.

The problem with common people is that they do not have any awareness about it. Respiratory disease as Asthama, Cough, Bronchitis etc. are caused.

The solution is in knowing the impact of PM 2.5 which is silently engulfing the life. The modern civilization is not worrisome about it. Political parties and leaders do not pay attention to this cause of silent giant. Such issues do not find any space in the manifesto or working agenda of the political parties.

Leaders talk lofty things at the big platforms but they are not keen to implement the control measures for the same. AAP government tried for odd-even rules for less vehicular operation but the way the BJP party behaved against it was sheer nonsense and just show of the less maturity. In fact the political leaders need to be vigilant about such reports and should act keeping in mind the serious impacts on the human lives.

The management of the vehicles has emerged as serious problem at the global level. In order to have a high quality life the vehicles have become a part and parcel of the present day living. Pt. Nehru had adopted the restricted use of auto vehicles. The auto policy was quite restricted with only few company vehicles as Ambassadors, Fiat, Standard plied but after the introduction of LPG model in 1991 the situation was drastically altered. Now the impacts are here to be seen, a horrible specter of dying human life. There should be a debate whether it is the quality of life or the human life; which is more precious?

Dirt is another cause. Indian cities are full of dirt. The reason is that sweeping of the roadside is not done in full way. Roads are not washed or cleaned properly, a work easily possible at night but no administrative efficiency is seen. People throw the waste things outside of their homes on the roads as seen in several northern states. Most of the states have not learnt to keep their roads and surroundings clean. Whenever there is silent wind with no or less motion, the PM 2.5 happens to be most in amount as the faster winds shift these particulate matter. Hence one should not be exposed to such areas where winds are silent, better is to suspend outgoing.

Cleanliness is must for such prevention but the individual efforts are lacking and government efforts in the form of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan have failed. Roads are dirty and filth is collected at several spots. Dust is even inside the homes and the offices. The garbage disposal system is still old. There is no official as well the individual sense of cleanliness. Therefore Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was bound to fail.

What is the way out then-

First- auto policy needs to be modified in accordance to keeping in mind the present report. There is cry for banning the big diesel vehicles but several political parties take the view of the auto industry rather than of the common people who are left to die without any consideration. The policy makers are governed by the big corporate houses. The interests of the common people are always diluted.

Second- dust should be avoided. Wrapping of the faces, use of masks should be used by the people. In China the use of mask is becoming a necessity in some places.

Third- when there is silent wind flow, the area has maximum PM 2.5 level so it needs to be avoided if possible.

Fourth- government should make available the PM 2.5 information at the public level in which the bus, metro, private cabs and FM radios should display what is the level of PM 2.5 in particular area. So that people may be aware about the level of pollution threat immediately and that too without hassles.
Fifth- municipalities have been strengthened after 74th constitution amendment but these have not discharged their duties with respect to the sanitation system due to technical and managerial reasons which needs modifications.

The report is quite alarming and is indicating that India is not moving in right direction with respect to human health. The PM 2.5 impact on human life is not a political issue therefore none is keen to talk about it but common people should raise the issue in unison to save their lives.

Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava, Vice Chairman CSSP, Consultant CRIEPS, e mail-[email protected]




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