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Effects Of Air Pollution In Delhi

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Air is the ocean we breathe. Air supplies us with oxygen which is essential for our bodies to live. Air is 99.9% nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and inert gases. Human activities can release substances into the air, some of which can cause problems for humans, plants, and animals.

There are several main types of pollution and well-known effects of pollution which are commonly discussed. These include smog, acid rain, the greenhouse effect, and "holes" in the ozone layer. Each of these problems has serious implications for our health and well-being as well as for the whole environment.

One type of air pollution is the release of particles into the air from burning fuel for energy. Diesel smoke is a good example of this particulate matter. The particles are very small pieces of matter measuring about 2.5 microns or about .0001 inches. This type of pollution is sometimes referred to as "black carbon" pollution. The exhaust from burning fuels in automobiles, homes, and industries is a major source of pollution in the air. Some authorities believe that even the burning of wood and charcoal in fireplaces and barbeques can release significant quantities of soot into the air.

Another type of pollution is the release of noxious gases, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and chemical vapors. These can take part in further chemical reactions once they are in the atmosphere, forming smog and acid rain.

The freshness of the air in one's environment has a direct impact on the quality and length of one's life. Air is more of a necessity of life than food or water. Imagine you live in a city where a grey-brown noxious haze of smog permeates the streets in your district. Imagine that these streets are filled with jam-packed traffic, a slow moving assembly of automobiles which blow out unhealthy exhaust fumes of carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals. You cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief to avoid excess exposure to dust and chemical particulates in the air. The air is not pleasant to inhale in deeply, and it gives you breathing trouble, making you co ugh and wheeze. In addition, your eyes water, your nose runs, and you have headaches and irritated eyes regularly when you are outdoors. As you walk on a street in this particular city on a weekday afternoon, a jogger passes by you wearing a face mask, and you observe children playing in a nearby school, inside a giant glass bubble to shield them from the city air. This circumstance is faced by many people living in metropolises of the world like Los Angeles and Mexico City. But the situation back home is no better.

Air Pollution in India

Industrialization and urbanization have resulted in a deterioration of India's air quality. India has more than 20 cities with populations of at least 1 million, and some of them--including New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata--are among the world's most polluted. Urban air quality ranks among the world's worst. Of the 3 million premature deaths in the world that occur each year due to outdoor and indoor air pollution, the highest number are assessed to occur in India. Sources of air pollution, India's most severe environmental problem, come in several forms, including vehicular emissions and untreated industrial smoke. Continued urbanization has exacerbated the problem of rapid industrialization, as more and more people are adversely affected and cities are unable to implement adequate pollution control mechanisms.


In Delhi today pollution is one of the most critical problems facing the public and concerned authorities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Delhi is the fourth most polluted city in the world in terms of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM). The growing pollution is responsible for increasing health problems. The deteriorating environment is the result of population pressure and haphazard growth. Industrial development has been haphazard and unplanned. Only about 2% of the industrial units are in approved industrial areas; the remainder are spread over the city in residential and commercial area Road transport is the sole mode of public transport; there has been a phenomenal increase in the vehicle population, which was increased from2 lakh in 1971 to 2 lakh in 1999.

Data from continuous monitoring of air quality reveals that suspended particulate matter levels still far exceed stipulated standards, there is a significant downward trend as indicated in the following tables.

Due to phenomenal growth in the number of motor vehicles Delhi and power generation based on a fired power stations, total amount on coal fired power stations, and total amount of pollutants received by the city is around 3000 tonnes as compared to 100 tonnes a decade ago. Sixty five percent of these pollutants are produced by motor vehicles. Annual average maximum, levels of SPM in Delhi's air has increased from 7.6 times the permissible limit in 1987 to 16.7 time in 1995.

The steep increase in vehicle population has resulted in a corresponding increase in pollutants emitted by vehicles. Petrol consumption has increased from 133 thousands tons in 1980-81 to 449 thousand tons in 1996-97 and HSD consumption from 377 thousands tons to 1,234 thousand tons during the same period. Two wheelers, which constitute 66% of the vehicles registered in Delhi, are the major source of air pollution.

Thermal power plants contribute to 13% of air pollution. The main pollutants are stack emissions; fly ash generations and fugitive emission in coal handling. All thee thermal power plants Delhi need better use of their emission control devices and the fly ash that they generate.

The air pollution generated from industrial activity in Delhi is about 12% of total air pollution. More than 1,300 industrial units that were not allowed to operate under the MPD - 2001 norms have been closed. The 1991 reports by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur documents the amount of pollution that is contributed by different sectors in Delhi:

In relative terms, the quantum industrial air pollution has decreased over the years. However, vehicular pollution has increased rapidly. The drop in share of domestic air pollution is due to the increased number of LPG connections in Delhi, which have replaced other forms of fuel.

Effects of Air Pollution

Air pollution can affect our health in many ways with both short-term and long-term effects. Different groups of individuals are affected by air



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