GS- III >> Environment >> Pollution
Context: Delhi air pollution: Marginal dip in pollution levels overnight as haze persists, health concerns rise.
About Particulate Matter:
- Particle pollution, also called particulate matter (PM), is made up of particles (tiny pieces) of solids or liquids that are suspended in the air. These particles may include: Dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and drops of liquid.
Different kinds of sources having particulate pollution:
- Primary sources: Cause particle pollution on their own. E.g., wood stoves and forest fires.
- Secondary sources: Let off gases that can form particles. E.g., power plants and coal fires.
Particle pollution includes:
- PM 10: They are inhalable particles which generally 10 micro-meters and smaller in diameters. These particles are relatively larger and can be seen as fine dust or smoke.
- They can come from various sources such as dust stirred up from construction sites, pollen, or emissions from vehicles and industrial processes.
- PM 2.5: They are fine inhalable particles which generally 2.5 micro-meters and smaller in diameters.
- They are often the result of combustion processes like burning fossil fuels, vehicle emissions, or even cooking.
- Because of their small size, PM 2.5 particles can penetrate deep into our lungs and even enter our bloodstream, causing more severe health issues.
Impact of particulate pollution:
- Respiratory problems: Inhaling PM can cause or worsen respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections.
- Cardiovascular effects: PM pollution has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases. Fine particles can enter the bloodstream and contribute to the development of plaque in the arteries.
- Reduced lung function: Long-term exposure to PM can lead to a decline in lung function, making it more difficult to breathe properly.
- Allergies and irritation: Particulate matter can trigger allergic reactions and irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, causing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and watery eyes.
- Cancer risk: Certain types of PM, such as diesel exhaust particles and some heavy metals, have been classified as carcinogens and are linked to an increased risk of developing lung cancer.
- Developmental issues: Pregnant women exposed to high levels of PM pollution may experience complications such as preterm birth, low birth weight, and developmental issues in their children.
- Impaired lung growth in children: Children exposed to PM pollution may experience reduced lung growth and development, leading to long-term respiratory problems.
- National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) is a long-term, time-bound, national level strategy to tackle the air pollution across the country in a comprehensive manner.
- To achieve 20 % to 30 % reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations by 2024 keeping 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
- 102 non-attainment cities mostly in Indo- Gangetic Plains have been identified based on ambient air quality data for the period 2011 to 2015.
- Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) was notified on January 12, 2017, for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution in Delhi and NCR.
- National Air Quality Index: It was launched in 2014 as ‘One Number- One Colour-One Description’ for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity.
- Eight pollutants namely particulate matter (PM) 10, PM2.5, Ozone (O3), Sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), lead (Pb) and ammonia (NH3) act as major parameters in deriving the AQI.