Air pollution and climate change

16 Jun 2021

Curtain Hug

-Dr Dyuti Datta Gupta

“Of all man’s works of art, a cathedral is greatest. A vast and majestic tree is greater than that.” It’s true boundlessly because somewhere out there, the tree is tirelessly producing oxygen so that I, You, and We can breathe. We should owe an apology, not only by words but in the true sense of action, by not clearing the forest drastically, which has become a routine to maintain the civilized urban lifestyle. Besides this, several other factors like earthquakes, dust storms, erupting volcanoes and meteorites smashing into the Earth’s crust are natural phenomena that can cause climate change and air pollution. Moreover, through our resource-intensive lifestyle like mining operations, exhausts from factories and industries, waste in landfills, burning of fossil fuels and agricultural activities, we generate more greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapour and chloroform carbons which contributes to air pollution, global warming and climate change.

Air pollution and climate change are the two sides of the same coin. The significant effects of climate change include increased heat, drought and insect outbreaks which lead to wildfires. Reduced agricultural yields, declining water supplies, severe health problems have occurred, and unexpected flooding and erosion in coastal areas are additional concerns. Simultaneously, the resultants of severe air pollution include global warming, acid rain, smog effect, deterioration of fields and building materials, extinction of animal species and most alarmingly, several acute health problems occur among humans.

Regarding the severe toxicological impact of air pollution on human health, six major air pollutants responsible include particle pollution; ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and lead. Long and short-term exposure to air-suspended toxicants has a different toxicological impact on humans, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, neuropsychiatric complications, eye irritation, skin diseases, and long-term chronic diseases such as cancer.

According to several research reports, there is a direct correlation between exposure to poor air quality and an increasing rate of morbidity and mortality caused primarily due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Air pollution is considered the major environmental risk factor responsible for the progression of some diseases like asthma, lung cancer, ventricular hypertrophy, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, psychological complications, autism, retinopathy, fetal growth, and low birth weight.

To regulate both the current and future climate and pollution changes, adequate policy and public health actions should be taken. At first, recycle and renewable energy should be used. A big “NO” to plastic bags and reduction in wastage of water should be done. Investment in energy-efficient appliances, energy-saving bulbs and filters for chimneys, consumption of less meat, green up the community through the plantation, reduction of forest fires and smoking and prohibition in using crackers should be implemented.