What is Air Pollution in India?
The release of pollutants in the air harmful to human health and the planet is known as air pollution. Air pollution is a common issue faced by people across the globe; however, some countries are more affected by this issue than others. India is ranked fifth among the most polluted countries in the world in 2021 by World Air Quality Report. Its vast landscapes and populous state of over 130+ crore people make this issue very crucial. Actions to reduce air pollution are urgently required, or a massive chunk of the population will face health concerns, and India’s rich landscapes and biodiversity will be lost.
India’s population, which includes 1.4 billion people, is exposed to unhealthy levels of Particulate matter (PM) 2.5. PM 2.5 is the most harmful pollutant because these fine particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.
How is Air Pollution Affecting India?
People exposed to these particles may get deadly heart and lung diseases, including lung cancer, stroke, and heart attack. PM 2.5 comes from common sources such as emissions of fossil fuels (coal, oil, wood, charcoal). It can also arise from windblown dust, including natural dust, and dust from construction sites and roads. Over 50% of PM 2.5 comes from secondary emissions, which include emissions from agriculture, industry, power plants, households, and transport. The secondary emissions can spread further than the primary emissions of PM 2.5.
Human health is not the only thing affected by air pollution in India. India is known for its expansive, breathtaking landscapes and diverse biodiversity. Air pollution heavily impacts ecosystems as they lose their ability to function and grow—emission results in acidification, which is acid rain falling on the vegetation and soils. Acid rains form when mixed with harmful pollutants in the air. Acidification prevents the ecosystem from delivering any ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, carbon cycling, and adequate water supply. The polluted air also enables the critical processes of plants that are required to grow by damaging their cell membranes. The loss of plants will eventually lead to species loss as many species rely on plants and ecosystems for food and habitat. The loss of an ecosystem leads to the loss of biodiversity.
How is India Combatting this Issue?
India is taking crucial steps in order to combat this issue. There has been a strong emphasis on using renewable energy, enhancing electric vehicles, and providing LPG cooking fuel to millions of households to reduce air pollution. The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) of India’s government is taking the initiative to resolve the detrimental state of air quality by setting a time-bound goal. The focus is on 132 cities where air pollution standards are not met, and NCAP is providing them with a foundation and guidelines for developing air quality. The government of India has also kept 1.7 billion dollars to combat air pollution in the 42 most populous cities over five years. Every year, the aim is to reduce air pollution by 15 percent.
India is ranked fifth among the most polluted countries in the world in 2021 by World Air Quality Report. PM 2.5 is the most harmful pollutant because fine particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream, and can lead to serious health problems. Air pollution affects ecosystems as they lose their ability to function and grow. India is taking crucial steps in order to combat this issue. The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) of India's government has set a time-bound goal to reduce air pollution by 15 percent.