July 23, 2024

Delhi, the capital of India, has been ranked as the most polluted city in the country for the first time in 2022, according to a report by Swiss air purifier company IQAir. The report, which measures air quality index (AQI) based on PM2.5 and PM10 levels, showed that Delhi had an AQI of 99.71 micrograms per cubic metre in 2022, more than double the safe limit prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Delhi was followed by Faridabad (95.64 micrograms per cubic metre) and Ghaziabad (91.25 micrograms per cubic metre) in the top three most polluted cities.

How did Delhi become so polluted?

Delhi’s high pollution levels can be attributed to various factors, such as:

– Traffic congestion: Delhi has one of the highest population densities and vehicle ownership rates in the world, which leads to severe traffic jams and emissions from vehicles. According to a study by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi emitted 1,000 tonnes of PM2.5 per day in 2019, which is equivalent to burning 1.8 million litres of diesel.

– Industrial activities: Delhi is home to many industries that operate without proper emission control measures or environmental clearance. These industries contribute to air pollution by releasing toxic gases and particulate matter into the atmosphere. Some of the major industrial clusters in Delhi are Ghazipur Industrial Area, Okhla Industrial Area, Narela Industrial Area and Mundka Industrial Area.

– Burning of waste: Delhi generates about 3,000 tonnes of solid waste per day, which is mostly dumped in open landfills or burned in unauthorised sites. Burning of waste releases harmful pollutants such as dioxins, furans and heavy metals into the air, which can cause respiratory problems and cancer.

– Construction activities: Delhi has witnessed rapid urbanisation and development in recent years, which has led to increased construction activities such as building new roads, bridges, flyovers and housing projects. Construction activities generate dust and debris that can be carried by wind or rain into other areas of the city or beyond.

– Fireworks: Fireworks are often used during festivals such as Diwali or Holi to celebrate cultural occasions or attract customers. However, fireworks emit large amounts of smoke and sparks that can create smog-like conditions and affect air quality.

What are the impacts of pollution on health?

Pollution poses serious threats to human health and well-being, especially for vulnerable groups such as children, elderly people and people with existing diseases. Some of the impacts of pollution on health are:

– Respiratory diseases: Pollution can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and asthma attacks. Exposure to high levels of PM2.5 can also damage the lungs and increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and tuberculosis.
– Cardiovascular diseases: Pollution can affect the heart rate and blood pressure by increasing oxidative stress and inflammation in the blood vessels. This can lead to hypertension, coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke and heart failure.
– Cancer: Pollution can increase the exposure to carcinogenic substances such as benzene, arsenic, lead and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can damage DNA cells and cause mutations that lead to cancer.
– Reproductive disorders: Pollution can affect fertility rates by altering hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. Exposure to high levels of PM2.5 can also reduce sperm quality and quantity in men.– Neurological disorders: Pollution can affect cognitive functions such as memory, attention span
and learning ability by impairing brain development
and function.

What are some solutions to reduce pollution?

There are several measures that can be taken at individual, community, governmental and international levels to reduce pollution and improve air quality in Delhi and other cities in India, such as:

– Promoting public transport: Public transport such as buses, metro, railways and electric vehicles can reduce traffic congestion and emissions from vehicles. Public transport should be affordable, accessible, reliable and comfortable for commuters.
– Implementing emission standards: Emission standards for vehicles, industries, power plants and other sources of pollution should be enforced strictly to ensure compliance with environmental norms. Emission standards should also include technologies such as catalytic converters, scrubbers, filters and electric motors that can reduce emissions from vehicles, industries, power plants and other sources.

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