Danger in the air

  • Pollution kills 15 times more people than all the world’s wars and violence combined
In Nepal incidences of health hazards such as respiratory dysfunction, kidney failure, bronchitis, eye irritation and allergies have increased rapidly; air pollution is playing the role of a slow poision

Nov 21, 2017-A country with good politics is not only wealthier but healthier too. When politics goes wrong, everything goes weird. I remember those days when people were afraid of the name Maoist. People ran away from them because they used to go from house to house collecting recruits for their campaign. Even my grandfather left his ancestral land due to this reason. The so-called Maoists have joined the government after they succeeded in ousting the monarchy. The country has moved from low entropy to high entropy. Nepal is suffering from political instability which has brought numerous problems. We Nepalis are deprived of rights and opportunities but we remain silent. Now is the right time to raise our voice for our rights and opportunities as we will be choosing people to assume leadership.

The Nepali people lack basic rights like the right to have good quality food, the right to breathe fresh air, and the right to have fresh and safe water. The country has a very weak system to monitor the quality of the food, water and air the people consume. This has unknowingly taken the lives of many people around us. This is a global problem too. According to the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, 9 million people died prematurely from pollution related diseases in 2015, accounting for 16 percent of all deaths worldwide. 

It’s obvious that everyone in our country is experiencing disproportional pollution, especially in the cities. This pollution has resulted mainly from fossil fuel combustion. Globally, fuel combustion of all kinds accounts for 85 percent of airborne particulate pollution, and almost all pollution is caused by oxides of sulphur and nitrogen. Cities like Kathmandu face a greater problem due to overcrowding. People living in the cities suffer daily hurdles due to inconveniences in transportation and air pollution from extensive dependency on fuel combustion. Similarly in rural areas, inefficient cook stoves, dependency upon firewood and slash and burn agriculture result in bad air.

In some cities in the country, improper sanitation, incorrect drainage of waste water from houses, hospitals and hotels and other human interventions in water resources have affected the quality of the water. During an excursion to the city of the Ram Janaki Temple, I encountered dumping sites in front of hotels, in the middle of the road, near market areas and even inside the Ram Janaki Temple. The Ram Janaki Temple is known for its holiness, but the waste strewn around the temple and the city has put the heritage site at risk of losing its value. The government must focus on this mismanaged situation. There is an urgent need to develop some sound strategic plan to conserve the heritage site, otherwise its charm will fade.

Many scientists have shown that increasing pollution is correlated with climate change since an increase in greenhouse gases has pushed up pollution levels in the world. Cities are responsible for 75 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 90 percent of urbanites worldwide are breathing air that doesn’t meet WHO air quality standards. In Nepal too, incidences of health 

hazards such as respiratory dysfunction, kidney failure, bronchitis, eye irritation and allergies have increased in a rapid manner. Air pollution plays the role of a slow poison which gradually damages the vital organs of the human body. Thus air pollution should be checked on a regular basis. Air pollution assessing devices should be installed on the highways to monitor the pollution level.

Urban settlements should be scientifically designed and based on sustainable approaches so that they do not become useless in the near future. The government should establish a separate body to monitor environment related issues in the country. The division of responsibilities among the concerned authorities must be done well. Research and innovation are of utmost importance to curb escalating pollution in the country.

Environmental contamination is now among the top global killers, responsible for one in six deaths worldwide. According to the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, pollution is more deadly than smoking, kills nearly 15 times more people than all the world’s wars and violence combined, and is three times as deadly as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis all put together. Thus pollution is more dangerous to people than heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. 

- Kalauni is pursuing a BSc at the Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal

Published: 21-11-2017 07:40

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