Image credit: Monitor Anything Anywhere
Unless we live in a city like Delhi where the air pollution is quite obvious as it is choking, most Indians do not seem to care too much about air pollution, mainly because it is not as visible in many cases as water or land pollution.
But, air pollution can be far more dangerous than land or water pollution. And this is precisely for the same reason why we do not bother much about it – its invisibility or at least relative invisibility.
When you see water that is contaminated, your brain immediately avoids it. When you see stuff that looks like a hazardous substance on land, your brain immediately takes action and you avoid it.
But when you do not see anything much in the air about you, your brain is not alerted to do something about it, and you end up not giving much thought. Out of sight is out of mind.
But carcinogens in the air can kill you. This is not just a possibility – it is a reality.
So air pollution is a bigger threat because it is an invisible, and hence, a more dangerous enemy.
“…air pollution kills 1.2 million Indians each year and takes 3% off the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The levels of the most dangerous airborne pollutants grew by 13% in India between 2010 and 2015, the report by environmental NGO Greenpeace added.
…With air pollution worsening in India, there has been a sharp rise in the number of chest and throat disease. Together, they caused around 1.1 million premature deaths in 2015 and now the country rivals China for the highest air pollution health burden in the world.”
Now, if only the ordinary you and me can have better access and awareness about air pollution statistics around us, and also an idea of how each industry does in air pollution control, that will at least be a first step for communities and corporates to do something about bringing it down. As Lord Kelvin or some equally important person said, What you cannot measure, you cannot control.
Unless you and I and others have an idea of the extent of air pollution from specific industries, we will not be able to initiate measures and avenues to control it.
This is where the news of an air quality rating system being launched in India comes as a really welcome news.
This is a collaborative effort between Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and international research experts has resulted in a star rating system for air pollution for various industries, which can be accessed by the public.
Researchers from the University of Chicago, Harvard University and Yale University worked with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to launch the first-of-its-kind five-star rating system in India to measure industrial air pollution. The initiative will make data from approximately 20,000 stack samples over multiple years publicly available.
The aim is to give government and the people the ability to see exactly where pollution is coming from, with the hope that this increased transparency leads to decreased pollution. Depending upon their performance on the pollution front, all factories will be given a rating of between one and five stars.
A start has been made in Maharashtra, and hopefully this will be extended to the rest of country as well. With industrial air pollution becoming a major threat to environment and health, this is indeed an excellent initiative.