The air pollution is fast emerging as a top life threatening environmental factor for survival of living beings on this planet. Offering solutions in the area is the Camfil Group, a world leader in air filters and clean air solutions that protect health, processes and the environment. In this context, Mr PKSV Sagar, Managing Director, Camfil Air Filtration India shared various insights related to air pollution, need for clean air and his company’s latest activities with the BioVoice News.
Shouldn’t the clean air be a human right as it is directly related to the matter of life or death? Why do we often ignore the importance of clean air?
Breathing air is essential for life. It is the very first thing we do when we are born. This is an instinct and we naturally expect the air to be clean but we do not instinctively question the quality of the air that we breathe. Unlike dirty water, air pollution is not visible and therefore we are often unaware of how good or bad our indoor air quality is.
However, in recent years the scientific community and global media are increasingly reporting on the links between human health and poor air quality. Many national bodies and world organizations are addressing this problem. As the health and economic impacts become more apparent they endeavor to set new standards and raise awareness. For over 50 years Camfil has lead the way, striving to tackle air pollution and improve Indoor Air Quality in the quest to make clean air a human right.
The air pollution has set the alarming bells ringing in India. What could be the state of the environment in next few decades if the situation continues to remain same?
Recent international and local studies state that Indian cities are facing an increasing air pollution crisis; with toxic air exposure levels being anywhere 4 to 12 times the safe limit. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to air pollution is the biggest single environmental risk to human health.
Today, over 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, a proportion to increase in coming years. On an average, we breathe upto 15 kg of air per day, with more than 25 million particles each day, exposing us to countless health-endangering particles and gases. In fact, the indoor environment can be 50 times more polluted than outdoor one. Evidences show that as the years have passed, pollution in India, specifically Delhi, has only got worse. This only proves that if not catered, pollution will become worse as the years pass by.
“Recent international and local studies state that Indian cities are facing an increasing air pollution crisis; with toxic air exposure levels being anywhere 4 to 12 times the safe limit”
What kind of stringent policy measures could be taken to check air pollution? Where do we stand currently?
Currently the Indian statutory framework on air has no clear demands on data generation either at the level of measurement or scientific research to determine the effects of pollution. India really needs to establish a national programme with allocated funding to research techniques for monitoring and controlling air pollution, as well as to enforce interstate air pollution regulations pertaining to vehicles and industry. We need to move away from “Risk based regulation” to “Statistical probability” to address the issue. India’s primary regulatory approach licences specified industrial activities to pollute within specified standards. Regulation is therefore not pitched at the level of ambient air quality but kicks in when an individual polluter violates the terms of his licence.
This situation has improved to some extent due to programmes such as the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme initiated by the Central Pollution Control Board. However, the measurement of air pollution remains riddled with problems regarding reliability of instruments, the appropriateness of technology, the regularity and quality of measurements and so on. There is also a paucity of scientific studies that link pollution with morbidities specific to Indian conditions.
Which are the most important grassroots factors that could help us to keep our air clean?
Air pollution is something you probably think about on a regular basis but most people tend to ignore considering the impact usually is identified in long term. On an average, we generally eat 1 kg of food per day, 2 kg of water but you would be amazed to realise the air intake comes out to be 15 kg per day. While we care a lot about what we eat or drink, seldom do we really care about the quality of air we breathe.
In 2016, ASSOCHAM released a survey suggesting five to 10 percent of the national capital’s office goers had called in sick due to respiratory problems. It’s imperative for business owners to ensure they provide their customers and employees with the best possible environment. Neglecting the quality of the air in your commercial building can cause serious health issues for anyone who breathes in this air.
We need to combat these grassroot air quality problems, with a sense of awareness in every individual. The most effective solution for air pollution (both indoor and outdoor) is prevention. Preventive measures are important when it comes to indoor air pollution. Using environmentally friendly cleaners will help to reduce volatile chemicals released in the air. In the case of outdoor air pollution, people can make conscious decisions to reduce or eliminate personal activities that contribute to the problem. This includes altering their driving habits by consolidating driving trips, joining a carpool to work, bicycling, or riding public transit. Conserving electricity and recycling products instead of throwing them away also reduces the need for factory and power plant activity. Governments should be encouraged to continue addressing and researching air pollution solutions such as renewable energy sources and technologies. In addition, they must also continue to create laws that further help regulate toxic emissions.
“India really needs to establish a national programme with allocated funding to research techniques for monitoring and controlling air pollution, as well as to enforce interstate air pollution regulations pertaining to vehicles and industry”