Air pollution is among the most significant health risks globally, says the World Health Organisation. The burning of fuel, garbage, and wood, emissions from the vehicle, dust from construction activity release toxic pollutants into the air that we inhale every day. The problems need immediate attention from the government and community, but Mumbaiites have started taking small steps in their way to check air pollution.
With traffic congestion and choked parking spaces releasing large quantities of pollutants into the air, an environmentalist said: “citizens should familiarize themselves with the city’s bus and train routes, and start replacing individual car commutes with carpooling or bus trips, at least once a week.”
Carpools are pretty popular in Europe and the United States of America; they are gradually catching on in cities such as Mumbai. From the source, In 2009, Vinod Bhatia started a carpooling service from his Kandivli residence to Andheri and Powai. In addition to reducing air pollution by taking a few cars off the road, he saves 75% on fuel costs. Carpooling brings down traffic congestion, accidents, and most importantly, pollution levels- said Vinod.
One of the simplest ways to reduce pollution, according to environmentalists, is to invest in efficient public transport. Cycling or walking is another way to improve air quality, and it is a good exercise too. Gautam Kirtane, research fellow, Observer Research Foundation, a city-based think tank, said, “No matter how fuel-efficient your car is, it will emit some amount of pollutants. If we consciously opt for public transport, it will reduce both pollution and traffic.” Father Savio Silveira, director of the nonprofit organization Greenline, said, “if the government provides good public transport, people will happily use it.”
Dust from road and building construction across the city contributes to high particulate matter levels responsible for respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis. Mumbai is in the midst of a construction boom, with old buildings being demolished to make way for high rises.
“Half the pollution will be reduced if contractors only spray water before and during the demolition of a building. Similar to those used abroad, vacuum machines that absorb dust can also be used,” said Professor Arnab Bhattacharya, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Environmentalists pointed out that pollutants cause as many respiratory problems indoors as outdoors. “Indoor air pollutants released from air fresheners, furniture containing formaldehyde, and various household cleaners generate toxic fumes. Cutting marble, granite, or aluminum should not be done at home,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. Citizens are looking at electrical equipment to protect themselves from the most lethal pollutants, such as Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter, a mix of soot, chemicals, and organic substances that can be inhaled into the lungs.
From the source, the recent fire at the Mulund dumping ground has been doused; residents who can’t inhale toxic fumes from the often fires at the site have started installing air purifiers. An air purifier is a device that removes pollutants such as dust, smoke, and pollen from the air, and it is effective for those who are facing allergies and asthma. “We have advised patients living close to the dumping ground to keep air purifiers on, especially at night, as breathing is very shallow and can affect the lungs,” said Dr. Vinay Gopalani, a Dermatologist.
An increase in green space could decrease air pollution; environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal said, “We need to politicize the issue since we pay taxes and we need to get its worth. While there is little that citizens can do, the ‘chalta hain’ attitude of the municipal corporation must not be tolerated.