Air pollution is a global crisis, with approximately 7 million people dying prematurely worldwide each year from it.
Research has shown that air pollution decreases the life span of the people by about four years. It impacts the most vulnerable in our society and threatens the future generation and the planet we live in by its negative effects.
Anthropogenic sources and natural sources are the major causes of primary and secondary pollutants of air pollution.
Anthropogenic sources include pollution created by households, transport, agriculture and industry. Natural sources are eruption of volcanoes, forest fires, dust storms and decay of organic materials. Hence, we can’t tackle the natural sources, but anthropogenic sources can be controlled with small efforts.
Air pollution has long-term and short-term effects on our own health, plants and animals.
It also causes global warming, melting of glaciers, reduction of visibility, ozone layer depletion, acid rain, eutrophication, ground level ozone formation and reduction in solar radiation.
In light of the peril of air pollution, World Environment Day 2019 is being observed on June 5, Wednesday with the theme “beat air pollution”.
But the day to beat air pollution is every day. We need concerted efforts from all – individuals, organisations and the government – to beat air pollution.
So what can we do? Here are a few suggestions. If you are not wearing a face mask, make it a habit of wearing one. Use clean energy sources, like hydropower, biogas, solar energy and wind energy, and use public transportation such as buses.
Similarly, reusing, recycling and reducing the consumption of industrial goods that pollute air are a handful of efforts we can practise at the individual level. Besides this, the government in coordination with national and international organisations, academic institutions and other agencies must work locally and globally to encounter air pollution and take urgent steps to manage the negative effects created by air pollution.
We have been polluting the earth for many decades. Therefore, it will be naive to think that we will be able to beat air pollution within days or years.
Knowing this fact, Filipino University has made it mandatory for the students to plant ten trees before graduating so that in the long run, air pollution can be checked to some extent.
This can also be implemented in our country. If we don’t start today, we will never be able to solve the problem.
A version of this article appears in print on June 04, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.