Air Pollution, a ‘silent killer’.


If someone asks you what is more important than oxygen what will be your answer? Of course ‘Nothing’. We know that the food , water and shelter is important, but to grab these basic amenities, there is the requirement of Oxygen, because without that we will die within 10 minutes and cannot enjoy even the simpler pleasures of life. But  only air is  enough?  ‘No’, we need a clean air, but the truth is that now most of the cities become a polluted gas chambers, and we and our children are breathing poisonous gas, which is  as harmful as smoking cigarettes or sometimes even more harmful than that. It is evident that in the recent years, many serious diseases such as  lung cancers, heart diseases, respiratory diseases and according to the doctors the reason behind this is the poisonous air we breathe everyday.

What is Air Pollution?

Air Pollution can be defined as  the release of pollutants such as gases, particles, biological molecules, etc. into the air that is harmful to human health and the environment. Air pollution consists of chemical particles in the atmosphere that poses serious health and environmental threat.

What Causes Air Pollution?

Air pollution is caused by both nature and human activities. Natural sources like volcanic eruption, forest fire, allergens, etc. causes air pollution. And human activities such as burning of fossil fuels, emissions from automobiles,  power plant etc. cause more air pollution. There are different types of man-made air pollution, when we burn fossil fuels they release energy which contains greenhouse gases that trapped heat into the earth and causes global warming. Smog is also one the most common type of air pollutions, it can be divided into two types:

1 Sulphurous Smog: It is made up of chemical component called sulphur oxides, it occurs because of burning of sulfur baring fossil fuel such as Coal.

2 Photo Chemical Smog: It is also called a ground level ozone. It is the result of the reaction between sunlight and nitrogen oxide(NO2) and volatile organic compounds. NO2 comes from car exhaust, coal power plants and factory Emissions.

Smog not only creates a brown haze that reduces visibility, but also harms plants, irritates eyes and cause respiratory distress. Apart from these air pollution also contains toxic pollutants such as mercury, lead, dioxins and benzene that releases during gas or coal combustion, etc.

According to a real-time air quality ranking report by IQ Air Visual, a portal that tracks air quality and air pollution across the globe, New Delhi, India is the most polluted city in terms of air pollution. 

Impact of Air Pollution on Young Children-

Accroding to the report of the  World Health Organisation (WHO), every day, around 93 per cent of the world’s children under the age of 15 years (1.8 billion children) breathe air that is so polluted that it puts their health and development at serious risk. And recent report published by UNICEF also supports this alarming fact. 

  • Air pollution can impacts neurodevelopment and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer. 
  • Children who have been exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at greater risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life.
  • Children are specifically more vulnerable to the health risks because of air pollution, their bodies and immune systems are still in a developing stage.
  • Exposure to air pollution at a young age can hinder lung growth, inhibit brain development and increase the risk of conditions such as asthma.

Why Children are more at risk-

Children are particularly more affects to the air pollution because that they breathe more rapidly than adults and so absorb more pollutants. They also live closer to the ground, where some pollutants reach peak concentrations.

Researchers have  found that children were exposed to higher levels of pollution, particularly while walking to school and on the playground. Since children are still growing, air pollution harms them during the developmental stage of their life, causing lifelong health problems. 

Way Forward-

  • Promoting the use of cleaner transport, energy-efficient housing.
  • Governments should adopt measures such as reducing the over-dependence on fossil fuels and move toward renewable sources of energy.
  • Reduce the burning of waste instead of this arrange a better waste management to reduce ‘community air pollution’.
  • Schools and playgrounds should be located away from major sources of air pollution like busy roads, factories and power plants.
  • Stick to the basic and always practice the 3Rs concept i.e; Reduce, Reuse and recycle. 

Hence, Air Pollution is a ‘silent killer’ that lurks all around us, preying on the young children. So, we  have to make sure that children aren’t burdened with irreversible health issues that limit their futures. It has been proven that air quality affects human health and young children were on the front line of a crisis which plays no   part in creating air pollution.

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