You might have seen or experienced this typical scene every year.
Husband: Good morning, honey! Happy World Environment Day, dear. What are your plans for the day?
Wife: Good morning, dear. Happy World Environment Day to you as well. I am having a busy day today. My calendar is full of events and activities. Tees for my team, speech in my company, tree plantation in our society, awareness drive in the park, etc.
Husband: Don’t forget to take Molly’s bicycle today. It is a remarkable thing for today’s day. Wear your mask too. The pollution levels are alarming in the city.
A typical conversation one can hear in any common household.
Let us rise from the naive, careless, happy-go-lucky routine and get serious about our environment. People, please wake up before it is too late.
We are already far ahead in the environmental damage done through the uncontrolled exploitation of fossil fuels, excessive pollution, and massive deforestation for urbanization.
Nature has already started taking its toll on human life through many dimensions. The entire climatic calendar has changed. Seasons are getting extended, and extreme weather conditions are changing drastically. India experiences drought in some areas while heavy floods in others. Earthquakes, landslides, heavy cloud bursts, lightning, and tornadoes are the uncontrolled calamities that have frequently occurred in the past few decades. Recent occurrences of Tsunamis were an enormous natural calamity.
Among all, pollution is the biggest problem that world leaders face today. We have numerous types of pollution that include air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, sound pollution, and pollution of the seas and oceans as well.
Air pollution from numerous industries and vehicle emissions have all drastically depleted the Air Quality Index (AQI) everywhere.
Air pollution is the most significant cause of many health hazards.
Respiratory diseases like breathing difficulties, asthma, bronchitis, prolonged cough, unseasonal cough, throat irritation, rise in sinusitis, damage the cells in the respiratory system, and many more.
Lung damage with disorders leads to lung cancers, lung failure, and infections.
The basic symptoms noticed are wheezing, chest pain, dryness in the throat, loss of appetite, hair loss, irritation, tiredness, nausea, and fatigue.
Aggravated cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses. Added stress to the heart and lungs causes more effort to pump more oxygen.
Long term exposure to pollution can lead to permanent damages:
- Rapid wear or ageing of lung cells.
- A steady decrease in lung function with loss of lung capacity.
- Development of diseases such as Asthma, Bronchitis, emphysema, and possibly cancer.
- Shortened life span.
The most susceptible to the severe health problems of pollution are:
- Patients with heart disease, congestive heart failure, and coronary heart disease.
- Patients with lung diseases like asthma, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Pregnant ladies.
- Outdoor construction, road, bridges, or mine workers.
- Elderly people beyond 60 years of age.
- Athletes who exercise heavily outdoors.
- Children below 14 years of age tend to have lower immunity.
These are minute particles of dust, smoke, metals, sulphates, nitrates, carbon, ash, rubber molecules, etc., that increase the density of pollution in the form of a smog or road level cloud smoke. A couple of years ago, our capital, New Delhi, was shut down due to dangerous pollution levels in the air. Schools remained shut for more than two months. The size of the particles is the determining factor. The PM two-point-five or smaller particulate matter poses the greatest problems as they bypass our natural defense system to enter our lungs and bloodstreams to the heart. Long-term exposure can affect both the lungs and our heart.
Extended exposure to the particulate matter from polluted air can cause significant health issues:
- Early death in patients with lung disease and heart disease.
- Particulate matter is connected to the cause of lung cancer.
- Unpredictable heartbeats.
- Mild heart attacks.
- Cause of chronic lung disease and chronic lung disease.
- Respiratory illnesses, infections, and disorders.
- Decreased lung movements and activities in expansion and contraction.
Any healthy individual who gets exposed to polluted air containing heavy particulate matter stands a chance to suffer from shortness of breath, chest pain and tightening, and prolonged coughing.
Short-term exposure to the polluted air that leads to inhalation of the particulate matter might lead to aggravated lung disease causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis. There is a possibility of increased vulnerability to respiratory infections. The short proportions of particulate matter can cause heart attacks in patients with heart diseases.
Water scarcity and reduced groundwater levels are the rising concerns of our country. People in certain parts of the country have to travel long distances to fetch water.
Water quality is another major concern. The government water treatment and filtration initiatives are too inadequate for the population’s requirements, resulting in water pollution and causing many health conditions and issues.
Drinking unhealthy water leads to numerous illnesses like Cholera, Typhoid, Diarrhea, Dysentery, and various skin infections.
Contaminated water hosts many germs, bacteria, microbes, fungi, and worms. The parasites enter the human body through contaminated water and infect numerous harmful diseases. Certain worms remain in the human body for a long time, consuming the host’s food and stunting the growth at a young age.
Most small hotels and eateries use water from any available sources like taps in the washrooms and common areas for making their food. Such kinds of activities pose ill effects of pollution on human life.
Corrective actions and Precautions
As it is rightly said that ‘prevention is better than cure,’ we as responsible citizens should take all the possible steps to control and reduce the pollution in all the sources, including air pollution and water pollution.
All the possible sources of pollution should be identified and curbed immediately. Reporting the locations of heavy contamination to the government health department—using face masks to be preferred while travelling. Carrying your personal water bottles on your journey are some of the primary measures to curb water pollution.
Our collective efforts can definitely bring about the change and improve our country, our environment, and our surrounding ecosystem steadily. The very present and future depend upon it. Let us come together and take a pledge on this environment day to contribute our lion’s share in this mission of achieving sustainability in our lifestyle as soon as possible.