If you step out on the roads of any city in India, or just stick your head out of the window, you will be greeted by clouds of smoke, fine dust, blurred visibility, and a toxic, chemical smell. Fresh air is a dwindling resource. As people, vehicles, and factories multiply, they fill the air with carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, dust, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, smoke, and other particulate substances.
Environmental pollution is a major cause of concern, and air pollution has already risen to an alarming level. India’s Kanpur and Delhi have ranked among the 15 worst cities in the world in terms of air quality. Shocking, but 14 of these 15 cities are in India. Mumbai comes fourth in the list of most polluted megacities.
The main causes of air pollution are as follows:
● In Asia, the burning of fuelwood and biomass causes air pollution, resulting in the formation of a brown cloud that delays the monsoon in India
● At low speed, vehicles burn fuel incompletely and emit four to eight times more pollutants. Heavy traffic congestion, a common sight in big cities, causes more air pollution than usual.
● Industrial emissions consist of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide gases. These react with rainwater and cause acid rain
● Thermal power stations, which are powered by coal, emit fly ash, hydrocarbons, and poisonous gases
● Smoking cigarettes, burning household waste, and dead leaves, burning at garbage dumping yards, etc., also contribute to air pollution
● Ultimately, we all breathe in this toxic air that may cause havoc in our systems. The effects of environmental pollution on our health are inevitable and undeniable
The following are some adverse effects of air pollution:
● Pollutants damage cells in the respiratory system and stress out the lungs. They also cause respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and even lung cancer
● Air pollution increases susceptibility to heart disease. It aggravates the cardiovascular illness. Those with heart disease, coronary artery disease, or congestive heart failure, are most susceptible to severe health problems
● It causes the lungs to age faster
● It can shorten the lifespan
● It interferes with the immune system and reduces resistance to infection
● It increases fatigue, nausea, dry throat, and headache
● Air pollution is a global phenomenon, affecting millions of lives not just where the pollution is produced, but wherever it is carried by winds and currents. Chlorofluorocarbons have made a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, where no human life exists. This shows us that this is no local occurrence, but a global crisis with far-reaching consequences.
Some steps that can be taken to control air pollution are:
● Adopting a carpool system, or using public transport. Walking or cycling would be better for short distances
● Getting a pollution check for your vehicle regularly, and replacing it if it is too old and emitting too much smoke
● Finding an environmental-friendly way of disposing of household waste, such as composting or recycling, instead of burning it
● Making air pollution regulation laws stricter, and monitoring industries and factories and penalizing them if standards are not met
● Using renewable, non-polluting sources of energy wherever possible
● It is time to take action to curb air pollution and leave fresh, healthy air for ourselves and our future generations to breathe
Along with taking precautions, signing up for a health insurance policy can always come in handy. ManipalCigna’s health insurance policies will keep your finances covered while you overcome a health crisis.