Pollution affects health of around 8.8 million lives worldwide and leads to millions premature deaths every year as pollutants enter human’s bloodstream that weakens their respiratory system and that makes human body vulnerable to many diseases. On an average, life span of people in China, Pakistan and India is shortened by 3.9 years due to air pollution, and in European countries it is shortened by 8 months. According to the guidelines provided by WHO, the pollutant level in the smoke prone areas is at least 4 times greater.
Lockdown in a way has acted as a blessing in disguise for the people all around the globe, pollution is down by 23% around the globe due to which people living in highly polluted areas are able to breathe fresh air. As now everybody stays home, many animals have come back to the traditional places at which they used to be sighted earlier. It also shows that how harsh, big and bold steps needs to be taken by the economies to achieve the goal of green global economy, but the cleaner air is of utmost priority right now, to deal and protect humans in the fight against coronavirus. As it has been noted that the high air pollution areas result in higher death rate because of coronavirus, and the vice versa, it can be used as a significant tool in fighting against the coronavirus pandemic which would help in saving millions of lives.
Impact of COVID-19 in reduction of pollution level
Studies suggests that the death rate of air pollution is 19 times more than that of malaria, 9 times more people than HIV, and three times more than that of people dying because of alcohol, worldwide. This unfortunate event of coronavirus has led to the positive outcomes for the environment in numerous ways. There has been a significant drop in the pollution across many different countries. For example- the pollution in US came down to 30%, in Rome by 49%, 46% in Paris, 35% in Bengaluru, etc. It had happened because of the lower usage of non-fossil fuel burning vehicles and the decline in the industrial activities.
Also, the usage of oil and coal has declined by 40%. Coal is used in thermal power plants to generate electricity, and so, it acts as a very big contributory factor in increasing the amount of pollution in the air as the burning ash of the coal, which is very high in temperature, is released in the air without a proper treatment, due to which, the pollutants in the air travels with the air leading to the contamination of air. According to the research issued by Centre for Research on energy and clean air (CREA), more or less nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and small pollution particle known as PM 2.5 emissions fell by 37% and 10%, respectively. In Uttar Pradesh, which is a home for 200 million people, PM 2.5 pollutants decreases the life expectancy by 8.5 years. PM 2.5 pollutants enter the body and injects into bloodstream, which penetrates deep into the lungs, leading to cardiovascular respiratory problems. In the smoke prone areas like Herbei, China, air pollution has dropped by 25%, as PM 2.5 pollutants concentration level fell from 67% to 59% in the first month of the lockdown and in April, it came down to 33 per cubic metre. Concentration level of pollutants have fallen by 15% in more than 300 cities of China due to sharp decline in the industrial activities and traffic. Similarly, as per the reports, In European countries, there are 11,000 fewer deaths because of the sharp fall in the fossil fuel pollution. This shows that with the use of electric cars instead of using fossil fuels, the world would be a better and cleaner place.
The coronavirus lockdown has led to a 17% reduction in carbon pollution across the world. China, US, India and the European union accounted for 2/3rdof less pollution in the first four months of 2020 due to less usage of fossil fuels and restricted industrial activity. CO2 pollutant emission from land and transport decreased by 40%; industrial, electricity generation and aviation sector also showed a decrease of 25, 19, and 10 percent respectively. If the global economy recovers to pre-pandemic conditions in June and mid-July, the impact on the drop of carbon pollutant will be only 4%.
The journal science combined the data of air pollution and air currents with the deaths related to COVID-19. The research showed that the areas with high level of pollution have a higher death rate as compared to other regions. Nitrogen dioxide damages the human respiratory system and causes cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in human beings. The air is in motion, the pollutants on the ground spread even more, they further start travelling and go up in the air but if the air stays near the ground due to pollution then pollutants would disseminate even more and due to this people would consume even more polluted particles present in the air because they would be present in huge numbers in the air flowing near them which would result in more health problems.
According to the data produced by European space agency and after combining it NOAA data on air flow researchers were able to mark the hotspots of COVID-19 with polluted air and after the comparison of death rates in less polluted cities it was found that in highly polluted areas have very high death rates in comparison to less polluted areas.
The people living in highly polluted areas become vulnerable to virus because of the poor health due to pollution in these areas and the virus could travel to larger distances in the air due to presence of pollutants in the air. “However, my research is only an initial indication that there might be a correlation between the level of air pollution and the severity of the outbreak of Corona outbreaks” said Ogen.
The impact of decreased harmful human activities is such that, with the improved water quality of BEAS, Indus river dolphin, one of the world’s rarest mammals have been sighted at the conservation reserve at BEAS and they have started venturing out to other areas as well. In the areas like Venice, the water became clear that the fish had started coming out, and the water in the canals also cleared up resulting in a better water flow.
People are now able to witness new sights like the clear view of stars, etc, because the air around us is much cleaner. People in Jalandar could also see snowcapped Himalayan peaks that are 100 miles away, which was not visible from a decade.
This recovery is way too small for all the damage that has been done, earth temperature has risen to levels that is enough to amplify deadly droughts, heatwaves and superstorm engorged by rising seas. Stuart Pimm, a conservation scientist believes that all of this has provided us with an extraordinary insight into just how much mess we all have created of our planet.
This unplanned grand experiment of lockdown has improved the quality of life in the sense that it has shown us a way for future, good sides of cleaner better environment, the way ahead to attain the dream goal of green global economy by bringing the structural changes in transport and energy sector. This pandemic is presented as a situation wherein pollution is decreasing, and the nature is reclaiming itself. This positive impact on environment might be temporary but the government and the individuals should take into consideration the key takeaways of this lockdown in order to build a healthy environment in the long-term. Therefore, it is imperative to make things like- better implementation of the industry regulations and the environmental transport, a priority so as to facilitate the detrimental impacts of human activities on the environment.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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