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© Kamla-Raj 2004 J. Hum. Ecol., 16(2): 129-132 (2004) Air Pollution: Its Perilous Chronic Hygienic Impacts Siddhartha Sarkar Department of Commerce, Dinhata College, 250 Pandapara Colony, Jalpaiguri 735 101, West Bengal, India E-mail: Siddhartha _31@yahoo.com KEYWORDS Health Hazards. Air Pollution. Vehicle Emissions. Burning of Agricultural Wastes. Industry Emissions ABSTRACT A number of environmental problems are already very serious and they call for immediate attention. The paper mainly con
  © Kamla-Raj 2004J. Hum. Ecol., 16(2): 129-132 (2004) Air Pollution: Its Perilous Chronic Hygienic Impacts Siddhartha Sarkar  Department of Commerce, Dinhata College, 250 Pandapara Colony, Jalpaiguri 735 101,West Bengal, India E-mail: Siddhartha _31@yahoo.com KEYWORDS Health Hazards. Air Pollution. Vehicle Emissions. Burning of Agricultural Wastes. Industry Emissions ABSTRACT A number of environmental problems are already very serious and they call for immediate attention. The papermainly concentrates on the impacts of indoor and outdoor air pollutants especially on health, with ultimate result that humanhygiene may be deteriorated, economic productivity may be declined and pleasure satisfaction gained from any unspoiledenvironment often termed as its ‘amenity’ value may also be absent to the present and future human welfare. It has been concludedthat intervention of the government has become indispensable to implement strong environmental policy and taking care of growingthreats on air pollution in more institutionalized, regular and automatic basis is inevitable. INTRODUCTION The achievement of sustainable and equitabledevelopment remains the greatest challengebefore the 21st century. Although the desirabilityof growth is globally accepted and recognized,recent years have provided testimony to risinganxiety about whether environmental constraintswill limit development or whether developmentwill cause serious environmental degradation.A number of environmental problems are alreadyvery serious and they call for immediateattention.Environmental threats evolve because of bothresource depletion and negative externalitiescaused by development process and projects.With a view to achieving the objects of sustainable development, it is inevitable to dowith both types of problem adequately. Negativeexternalities like air pollution impose severewelfare losses and decrease output as well.However, in this paper an effort has been madeto assess the magnitude and impacts of airpollution on health. Air pollution may be termedas the presence of one or more pollutants orcombinations of these pollutants in such quantityand for these pollutants, which may prove to beinjurious to human, plant or animal life or evento property around. The paper mainly concen-trates on the impacts of indoor and outdoor airpollutants especially on health, with ultimateresult that human hygiene may be deteriorated,economic productivity may be declined andpleasure satisfaction gained from any unspoiledenvironment often termed as its ‘amenity’ valuemay also be absent to the present and futurehuman welfare.The paper is organized as follows. Section IIdeals with indoor air pollution with bio-fuelswhich are used by rural households in India andits role in growing national disease burden. Thehygienic effects of outdoor air pollution causedby vehicle emissions, burning of agriculturalwastes and industry emissions have beenhighlighted in section III. The strategic measurefor minimizing indoor and outdoor air pollutionhas been recommended in both sectionsseparately. In last section, remedial policypackages for controlling air pollution and roleof government in this regard has been focused. INDOOR AIR POLLUTION: GROWINGBURDEN OF DISEASE Indoor air pollution with bio-fuels is an issuethat requires to be addressed through healthpolicy. Some of highest concentrations of pollutants occur due to the use of bio-fuels forcooking in rural indoor environment. Theyemerge from burning of bio-fuels like wood,agriculture crop residues and dung cake, whichare used by mass rural households in India.Women and children below five years are mostlyaffected due to pollutants released during theburning of bio-fuels for cooking. In this sectionan effort has been made to display the healthimpacts of bio-fuels for cooking and strategiesto reduce the effect.According to 1991 census, about 75% of Indian households use bio-fuels such as wood,dung cake and crop residues for cooking pur-poses. Burning unprocessed bio-fuels in conven-tional stoves creates huge amount of air pollu-tants. From the health point of view, particulate,carbon mono-oxide and a series of organiccomponents are important. Studies reveal that  130 SIDDHARTHA SARKAR pollutants released indoors are more hazardousthan those released outdoors. High exposure toindoor air pollutants has been associated withserious health hazards. Major diseases associatedwith it are acute respiratory infection (ARI),chronic obstructive lung diseases such as chronicbronchitis, lung cancer and possibly tuberculosis,adverse pregnancy outcomes, blindness, heartdisease and asthma. In India, most importantdisease with indoor air pollution is probably ARI.ARI plays a vital role in the Indian nationalburden of disease. It is single largest diseasecategory nationally, being responsible for aroundone-eighth of national burden disease and affectsmainly young children. The survey result of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) of India1992-93 shows that children under age threeliving in households who use wood and animaldung as their basic source of cooking fuel havealmost on-third higher risk of ARI than thechildren living in households who use cleanerfuel. As per the illustration provided by starlingstatistic, ARI in Indian children under 5 aloneis responsible for 2% of the entire global burdenof disease. Analysis of NFHS data reveals thatadults over 30 years living in households usingbiomass fuel has around 30% more partialblindness and 170% higher tuberculosis rate thanthose living in households using clean fuel.Estimates available from a recent study onannual premature death to children under 5 yearsof age and adult women are in the range of 4,10,000 – 7,90,000 (Table 1). These estimatesare however only for specific diseases, there arecertainly effects on other population groups andfrom other disease also. Strategies for Control  ãImproving the ventilation in the cooking areaso as to reduce the suspended particulatematter concentration.ãDesigning and using better stove in costeffective manner, which need less fuel andgenerate less smoke.ãIncreasing access to clean fuels such asbiogas, solar stoves, kerosene, liquidpetroleum gas or electricity.ãSubstituting household biomass fuels withcoal.ãRedesigning petroleum policy such thatkerosene is easily available to people ataffordable price. Table 1:Estimated annual premature deaths from indoorair pollution in India (I)Strong Evidence3,10000 – 4,70000ARI Children age below 5 yearsChronic ObstructiveWomenPulmonary DiseaseLung Cancer fromWomen (few in India)Coal Use(II)Moderate Evidence5,0000 – 1,30000BlindnessWomen (no death)Perinatal EffectsInsufficient data forestimatesTuberculosis Women(III)Suggestive Evidence50,000 – 1,90000 WomenCardiovascular Disease WomenAsthma Women (few in India)Gross Total of all4,10000 – 7,90000three Categories Source: Compiled from the Study made by Smith, K.: (1998)published in  Economic and Political Weekly , XXXIV(9) 5:540 (1999). OUT DOOR AIR POLLUTION ANDHEALTH: A REVIEW The presence of one or more contaminantsin the outdoor atmosphere is turned as airpollution like dust, fumes, gas, moist, odour orsmoke in quantities such as to be injurious tohuman, plant and animal life or to propertyaround. The worst pollutants of air are carbonmonoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide,hydrocarbons and particulate. Automobiles,industries and electric power plans are the mainsources of outdoor air pollution and theiremissions break out various air borne diseaseslike pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma and evenlung cancer along with many other hygienicproblems. This section displays especially theeffects of the major outdoor air pollution causedby vehicle emissions, burning of agriculturalwastes and industry emissions and a fewstrategies to prevent the damaging impacts. (a) Vehicle Emissions Vehicle emissions have been identified as thegreatest environmental danger in a large numberof cities in developing countries. As far as carbondioxide emissions are concerned, India’s percen-tage in the world scenario was 4.4 % in 1996,while in case of Kenya and Sri Lanka it was nil(Table 2). Studies run by National EnvironmentalEngineering Research Institute (NEERI) revealsthat the level of pollution due to round the clock automobile emissions in Indian cities is on the  131 AIR POLLUTION: ITS PERILOUS CHRONIC HYGIENIC IMPACTS rise, if compared to other cities of the world.Particulate emitted by vehicles pose a hazardto the health of human being, animals and alsoto longevity of the property. However, the damagedue to particulate is rather indirect and slow. But,among the gaseous components, oxides of nitrogen and nitrated organic are considered tobe most hazardous. Even very small quantitiesof these chemicals cause problems like irritationof eyes, nose and other delicate membranes of the body. While not so dreadful, carbonmonoxide is also hazardous to human beings andanimals. It reacts and neutralizes of a portion of the hemoglobin in the blood and thus reducingrespiratory capacity. When in a largeconcentration of 100 p.p.m. or more it can causedeath with relatively short exposures. Thus, fromthe health point of vies, oxides of nitrogen andcarbon monoxide are pollutants of dangerousconcern. Strategies for Control  ãManufacturing such vehicles, which do notdegrade the atmosphere beyond permissiblelimits.ãTaking early action by central and variousstate boards to develop instrumental andmanpower competence for carrying outvehicular pollution monitoring.ãEnforcing provisions of the law strictly.ãDevising a cheap gadget by technologists forfixing on the existing vehicles so that thereis no pollution these vehicles beyond thepermissible levels. (b) Burning of Agricultural Wastes Harvest burning creates widespread problemsparticularly related with air pollution. The strawand stubble in the farm is mostly disposed byburning so as to prepare for next crops. However,for the public it is an unmitigated nuisance. Theproblems related with harvest burn are asfollows-ã Smoke and general nuisance.ã Damage to property.ã Threat to wild life.ã Effects on human hygiene :i)Smoke causes suffocation and thus breathingproblems and irritation to eyes.ii)Suspended particulate matter like fly ashcauses public nuisance and injury to eyes.Despite these problems, straw and stubbleburning are wide spread in India and is one of the burning hurdles. Therefore, it calls forimmediate attention of the Government andpollution control boards to take appropriateaction to control and minimize the problem. Strategies for Control  ãHarvest survey should be carried out.ãMaking by-laws for straw burning isindispensable.ãThe method of ploughing is straw should beadopted.ãDevelopment and exploitation of alternativeuses like straw as animal feed straw inpapermaking, chemicals from straw etc. tobe encouraged. (c) Industry Emissions The pollutants emitted by selective industrieslike cement, leather, paints, aluminum,fertilizers, sugar and paper have damagingeffects on human health, cattle health, forestsand biodiversity. The diseases namely asthmaand chronic bronchitis, respiratory troubles, teethand gum problems, eye and ear diseases and soon frequently attacking the people of industrialregions are attributable to the air pollution causedby industries. The health damage due toenvironmental pollution has been identified inmany studies. Meanwhile, all most all statepollution control boards have found pollutantsof selective industries and their adverse impactson human health (Table 3). Strategies for Control  ãProducer and consumers should aware aboutthe industry pollutants and their hazardousimpacts. Table 2: Percentage of carbon dioxide emissions in 1996 CountryMillionPercentage Metric tonsof World  India997.44.4Indonesia245.11.1Kenya6.80Malaysia119.10.5South Africa292.71.3Sri Lanka7.10 Source: Complied from World Development Report 1999/ 2000, p.222.  132 SIDDHARTHA SARKAR ãA proper blending of environmental exciseduty and environmental charge along withdirect controls are necessary for India.ãIn academic and policy circle, efforts are tobe made to devise a suitable market basedstrategy for protection of industry emissions.ãThe source of industry pollutants must betaken into account in setting air qualitystandard. CONCLUDING REMARKS Both indoor and outdoor air pollutants are agrowing public health worry even though theymay not constitute immediate and direct threats.The pollutants released due to use of bio-fuelsfor cooking cause serious health problems towomen and children below five years of age,while outdoor air pollutants may be directlyemitted into the atmosphere from the identifiablesources and include carbon particles, cigarettesand industrial or vehicular smoke with a negativeimpact on human hygiene too. Since, completeelimination of air pollution requires heavyexpenditure, a short and medium term solutionis to be framed for controlling the existing level.In India, several regulatory statues have alreadyevolved regarding air pollution control andenvironmental encouragement. However, inorder to add momentum to the developmentprocess and to implement strong environmentpolicies, the intervention of the government hasbecome indispensable in the present circum-stances.Generally, two sets of policies are oftenadvocated to assault the underlying causes of airpollution and both are equally important. Thefirst set of policy packages includes promotingeducation, facilitating air pollution management Table 3: Adverse impacts of industrial pollutants on human health  Industry PollutantsDamaging Impacts on Health Cement Cement dustAsthma and other bronical problemsLeather Sulphur oxide and other acid gasSuffocation, bronical problems.Paints Sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide andsuspended particulate matterSuffocation, irritation of throat and eyes, irritationof lung, blockage of oxygen.AluminiumAsh, acid waste and sewage waterBlood poisoning, suffocation, lung cancer, heartdiseasesIron & Steel Slag, dust and sludgeHeadache, eorrosion of teeth, cold, eye defects, lungdiseases.Fertilizer Urea dust, ammonia, phosphate,Suffocation, bronchitis, edema of lungs, irritationsolid waste-fly ashof throat Source: Compiled from Choudhury, A., and Sahu, N.C.: Environmental excise duty and emission tax: A comparative analysis inthe context of India. Finance India , XII(1): 129-130 (1999). training and research etc. The object of secondset of policy packages is to bring the positivelinks between development and environment.The most common among them involves targetedpolicies to change behaviour. In second set,policy packages are based on both incentives andquantitative restrictions. The government adoptsvarious fiscal measures taking into accountincentives based policy to control air pollution.Among them use of environmental taxes isregarded as a part of an integrated policy thathas become a subject of considerable interest inmost of the countries. The government oftentakes measures to encourage economic efficiencyon both national and international level tominimize the degree of air pollution. But, apartfrom the government machinery to enforce,taking care of growing threats on air pollutionin more institutionalized, regular and automaticbasis is inevitable. REFERENCES Choudhury, A. and Sahu, N. C.: Environmental excise dutyand emission tax: A comparative analysis in the contextof India. Finance India,   XII(1): 117-134 (1999).Garg, M.R., Basal,V.K.and Tiwari,N.S. (Eds.):  EnvironmentalPollution and Protection. Deep & Deep Publications,New Delhi (1997).Parik, J.,Smith,K. and Laxmi, V.: Indoor air pollution: Areflection on gender bias.  Economic and Political Weekly, XXXIV (9): 539-544 (1999).Sarkar, S. and Bandyapadhyay, T.: Growing threats onenvironment: A challenge before 21st century . Paper Presented at the UGC Sponsored National Conference,Organized by   P.D. Women’s College, Jalpaiguri, West  Bengal (2000).Shukla, S.K. and Srinivastava, P.R.:  Environmental Pollutionand Chronic Diseases. Commonwealth Publication, NewDelhi (1992).World Bank:  Entering the 21st Century. World DevelopmentReport, Washington, D.C. (1999).
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