Grappling with the air scare : The Tribune India

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Grappling with the air scare

Grappling with  the air scare

Photo for representation. File photo



Chetana Vaishnavi

I feared that I wouldn’t last another day if I didn’t get the air purifier right away. After convincing my husband of my need for one, we rushed to the big showroom selling the air purifier of my choice. There were just a few units available. As the shopkeeper was giving a demonstration of the new model, other customers resorted to panic buying. Four units were sold within minutes. Fortunately, I was able to get the last piece available that day.

The air purifier was installed immediately after we came home. It showed an air quality index (AQI) of 144. I knew I had been breathing polluted air for quite some time. I had been coughing and wheezing due to poor indoor air.

Earlier, my flat on the ground floor had very effective cross-ventilation. But with so many motor vehicles being used by residents in the neighbourhood, the air entering my house started becoming polluted. Vacuuming the rooms did not help much. Consequently, I covered much of the balcony area through which emissions from cars entered, but to no avail.

Several years ago, while driving on highways along green fields, we would keep the windows of our car open just to breathe in the pure air. Nowadays, while travelling on highways, we usually keep the windows closed in view of the air pollution caused by stubble burning, bonfires or vehicles.

Solid and liquid particulate matter of a diameter of 2.5 microns or less generally pollutes the air. This air can reach the lungs, leading to irritation in the respiratory system and associated problems. Even those with a diameter of 10 microns can enter the lungs.

Air pollution can be due to natural reasons such as dust or wildfire. However, humans are gravely responsible for polluting the air by using fossil fuels for vehicles and operating coal-fired power plants, besides other industrial activities, construction work and stubble burning. The AQI tells people how safe is the air they breathe. An AQI up to 50 is regarded as good and up to 100 is considered moderate. But an AQI above 100 is hazardous to health.

According to a 2023 report, Delhi is the fourth most polluted city in the world after Chiang Mai, Kathmandu and Shenyang. The Delhi government has banned the plying of BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel four-wheelers. But there is also a need to take strict action against other polluting vehicles, including buses, trucks and tempo travellers.

May we all breathe easy and free!


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