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#Explained: Smog and its impact

smog and its impact

As the winter and festive season is coming soon, North Indian cities will be full of joy, lights and definitely smog. In the next few months, the national capital territory will be experiencing hazardous air quality, which will result in harmful smog.

Air Quality in India
Air Quality in India| Source: AQI

Main sources of pollutants in Indian cities are from vehicles, heavy industry including power generation, small scale industries including brick kilns, construction activities, open waste burning, combustion of various fuels for cooking, lighting, and heating. 

What is Smog?

The Smog is a combination of two english words “Smoke” and “Fog”, to denote what it is. Smog can be described as a fog created in an unnatural way because of the human activities and harm done to nature.

The term ‘Smog’ was first used in 1900. Main reason behind smog at that time was the burning of coal. So, smoke was commonly seen in industrial areas in the 19th and 20th century. But, this smoke was different from the regular ones. People were getting sick because of it and later it was found out that the air had a lot of harmful chemicals in it.

The Great Smog of London was a very severe air pollution event that happened in December in 1952. More than 10,000-12,000 lives were lost and around 1,00,000 people were severely ill. The 1948 Donora smog is infamous and one of the worst air pollution accidents in the history of the USA. Even after 10 years of accident effects were seen in nearby communities.

Mainly there are two types of smog

  1. Los Angeles Smog: Smogs primarily formed in summer months and can mainly be found in subtropical zones. Los Angeles smog consists mainly of gases, including carbon oxides, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. Sometimes photochemical smog is the term used instead of Los Angeles Smog.
  2. London Smog: Mainly formed in the months between October to January, and is mostly found in temperate climatic zones. London smog is primarily a mixture of various particulate matters, enriched with sulphur, nitrogen or carbon oxides. It is also called Sulphur Smog.
Delhi’s Famous Kartvya path covered in Smog
Delhi’s Famous Kartvya path covered in Smog | Source: Twitter

Effects of smog

Pollution
Toxic pollutants in the air, or deposited on soils or surface waters, can impact wildlife in a number of ways. Like humans, animals can experience health problems if they are exposed to sufficient concentrations of air toxics over time.

Premature deaths
Smog can lead to premature deaths and very serious respiratory disease and even cancer. Studies have even found that the smog also increases the risk of a low birth weight at delivery.

air pollution deaths in 2020
health and economic impacts of air pollution in 2020

Acid Rain
Acid rain is precipitation containing harmful amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. These acids are formed primarily by nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned.

Ozone depletion
At ground level, ozone is a pollutant that can harm human health. In the stratosphere, however, ozone forms a layer that protects life on earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. But, this “good” ozone is gradually being destroyed by man-made chemicals and smog is full of chemicals harmful to ozone.

Rising Tempetaure

The Earth’s atmosphere contains a delicate balance of naturally occurring gases that trap some of the sun’s heat near the Earth’s surface. This “greenhouse effect” keeps the Earth’s temperature stable. However smog imbalances the amount of these gases in the environment. These gases trap more sunlight than we need and contribute to the increase of global average temperature and finally to Global Climate Change.

Conclusion

Climate change is real and smog is one of the resulting factors. Every day, every year we complain about how polluted the air is and how the government is doing nothing. But, we never access ourselves. How our actions are harming the environment. Government has policies for everything and people to implement it but we, the common people are the ones not following them.

If we go to the hill station we want bonfires. We want to sit by the fire for hours. We simply just do not think if it could harm our nature or where the wood is even coming from. While living in the cities we want to take our own vehicle even if we are just going to the gym or doing some errands.

There are just simple solutions like carpooling, public transportation, not burning agricultural waste and firecrackers. When the government bans burning of agricultural waste, they are against farmers. And, when they ban firecrackers, they are against certain religions.

Deaths occurred by air pollution is concerning and scary but all facts and numbers are lost in political agendas.

We as citizens have to stop being hypocrites. At the same time, we need to understand our responsibility towards mother nature. We need to stop thinking about how our actions can change things but let me tell you, the actions of one can’t change anything but the action of billions is damaging the only planet that can sustain life. 

Also Read

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