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Toxicity in the Air Getting Worse in UK and India

A smoke being released from a factory in the UK. / Photo by: Michael Trolove via Wikimedia Commons

 

Humans need to breathe in order to live, but what if it soon becomes dangerous?

The UK has been recently reported to contain toxic gases that endanger 4.5 million children in the country. UNICEF warned the country, stating that these children are getting more exposed to harmful gases day by day. Children walking along streets or roads can inhale more pollutants than adults as they tend to pass by car exhausts more often.

According to the UN children’s organization, there are 1.6 million lives and 270,000 infants living in small areas with small particulate pollution. A representative from UNICEF UK, Amy Gibbs, emphasized the dreadful effects of these pollutants on the children, as these fill their lungs with toxins and put their lives at risk of life-threatening disorders. Gibbs further said, “It’s unacceptable that the most vulnerable members of society, who contribute the least to air pollution, are the ones suffering most from its effects.”

Tests were conducted around London, Manchester, and Leeds to support the claims. Primary and nursery school children were asked to carry devices that measure the amount of pollution around the child. One of the results showed that the upper deck of buses was filled with more toxins than the lower deck.

These children walk to school every day, unaware of the pollutants they are inhaling. Classroom pollution had also reached PM 2.5 on the larger PM 10 scale. This includes both warm and cold seasons. Children are most vulnerable to lung infections that may not appear quickly but later in their adulthood.

Experts are then advising parents to move into secluded areas, far from busy roads. Others are suggesting buggy covers to protect their kids from toxins while walking down the street. Children are also more at risk when being driven to school, as recent studies show. The answer, therefore, is for the government to reduce the overall pollution on all roads.

Over the years, UK has failed to get rid of the high amounts of nitrogen dioxide pollution. Because of this, the case has been taken to Europe’s highest court. Members of the Parliament from four committees have addressed their concerns regarding the government’s plan on how they can decrease the amount of toxicity in the air. The environment secretary, Michael Gove, tried to convince his people to walk more often and to leave their cars behind. These simple steps will lessen the pollution and save their children, as well as future generations.

The government then plans to lessen the number of people living in areas with particulate limits before the year 2025. However, selected MPs announced a lack of funding to fix the issue. One of the MPs, Neil Parish, stated that car industries are somewhat responsible for the toxins and yet the government fails to produce and declare a Clean Air Fund. Instead, they plan a Clean Air Day wherein families are expected to leave their cars when they go to work or school. Fortunately, parents are more than willing to participate, claiming that they may be late for work but as long as their children are safe, it would be worth it.

Air Pollution After Winter Season in India

 

In South Asia, however, Delhi is continuously struggling with polluted air and this time, they experience it beyond winter season. Delhi used to experience high amounts of toxins in the air during dust storms, however, between the months of March and May 2018, the NCR has been recorded with 24-hour levels of PM 2.5. Their air quality now contains a composite measure of ozone, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. As stated in the AQR values, there were no recorded good air qualities earlier this year. Moreover, this state of pollution can cause respiratory diseases and worsen conditions of individuals already suffering from lung or heart diseases.

Air pollution in Delhi is mostly caused by burning fossil fuels, seasonal fires, and dust storms. This has taken a toll among Delhi’s population. In 2015, there were 2.5 millions deaths because of noncommunicable diseases obtained from air pollution. India is then required to take action where they should prevent the burning of coal and firewood, as well as the use of diesel gensets. These suggestions are frequently mentioned in the CPCB monthly reports. However, there are still no updates on whether the country has addressed the issue or is starting to implement laws regarding air pollution. The quality of air in Delhi has reached 10-12 times beyond the safety border originally set by the World Health Organization.

Satellite view of the air pollution in Northern India. / Photo by: NASA via Wikimedia Commons
 

Independent researcher from IndiaSpend, Aishwarya Sudhir, stated that these actions are usually reserved for the winter time where pollution is at its worst state. According to the researcher, there has been no announcement of plans to fix the degrading quality of air throughout the country. At this state, there should also be text alerts from the government or warnings.

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