Fresh, unpolluted air is one of the natural elements of Planet Earth. Clean air is essential for healthy existence. Air quality in a park, forest or on mountain top is clean, fresh and rich in oxygen compared to air in a city or an industrial area.
Places with low human densities, devoid of polluting industries and vehicles, are considered to have good quality of air. But as places expand along with its human population, the quality of air deteriorates.
Air pollution can be described as pollution of air by presence of greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), or suspended particulate matter like aerosols, ash from wood burns that are harmful to human and environmental health.
These pollutants originate from a variety of sources like household stoves, cigarettes, agricultural and forest fires, vehicles, industries, coal-fired power plants, roadside burning of garbage.
The World Health Organisation considers air pollution as the single largest environmental health risk in the world. Recent research suggests 8.8 million people in the world die prematurely every year due to polluted air.
Sustained exposure to bad air causes respiratory diseases, lung ailments and cancer; and other cardiovascular diseases. India records the highest number of deaths due to chronic respiratory diseases. It also has the most prevalent cases of asthma. Bengaluru has the dubious distinction of being the only city in India where vehicles contribute most to air pollution.
Bengaluru’s population stands at little over 12 million. Currently the city has more than 8 million vehicles, with about 1,750 new vehicles being registered everyday. Apart from vehicular emissions, fugitive dust from paved and unpaved roads is another serious contributor – with as much as 20% being its contribution to air pollution in Bengaluru. The city also has industrial areas with its precincts which is responsible for nearly 15% of the air pollution in the city.
To monitor the quality of air in Bengaluru, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has set up 21 air quality monitoring stations and 6 vehicular emissions stations to monitor air quality and vehicular emissions in different areas of the city. You can click here to check live status on 7 of them.
Air Quality is within the realm of the UN SDG 3 (Good health and well being) and 13 (Climate Action). The 17 SDGs are the guiding theme for the activities of the Bengaluru Sustainability Forum (BSF). More food for thought is in the browse repository of projects, reports, articles and weblinks of organisations concerned below.