The image below shows the resulting air pollution caused by crop burning in India. You can actually see the clouds of smoke caused because of this. The image was captured by NASA satellites in the year 2013.

Did you know that India has the highest rate of deaths due to respiratory diseases? According to a study in 2013, non smokers in India have a 30% higher impaired lung function compared to Europeans. Why the difference? The answer is obvious  - "The quality of air". So what are the causes of air pollution in India?

The major causes of air pollution in India are:

  • Exhaust emission from vehicles
  • Industrial emissions
  • Congested traffic in almost all cities of India
  • Using crude means of producing fuel like burning firewood and biomass
  • Use of adulterated fuel leading to unburnt or partially burnt particles contributing to air pollution

According to India’s National Health profile of 2015, there has been an exponential rise in diseases caused due to air pollution in India in the past 15 years, even considering the rising population. In Delhi, experts believe that young children may never actually recover their full lung capacities owing to the extremely bad quality of air available. Even though other parts of India like Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities don’t receive as much attention, the situation is just as bad. The quality of air exceeds safe limits set by many times. The effects of air pollution can also be seen to affect monuments like the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

How can air pollution be controlled or reduced?

Given below are a few measures on how to control air pollution.

  • Since industrial emissions are one of the major causes of air pollution, the pollutants can be controlled or treated at the source itself to reduce its effects. For example, if the reactions of a certain raw material yield a pollutant, then the raw materials can be substituted for other less polluting ones.
  • Fuel substitution is another way of controlling air pollution. In many parts of India, petrol and diesel are being replaced by CNG fuelled vehicles. These are mostly adopted by vehicles that aren’t fully operating with ideal emission engines.
  • Although there are many acts in place in India which focus on repairing the quality of air, most of them are either forgotten or not being enforced properly. There are still a lot of vehicles on roads which haven’t been tested for vehicle emissions.
  • Another way of controlling air pollution caused by industries is to modify and maintain existing equipments such that pollutants are minimized.
  • Sometimes controlling pollutants at the source is not possible. In that case, we can have process control equipments to control the pollution.
  • A very effective way of controlling air pollution is by diluting air pollutants. If they diffuse with a large area of clean air, the natural process of cleaning would come into play and the polluting effects themselves will be reversed. Especially in industries, the use of tall chimneys can serve this purpose. The pollutants will disperse in heights large enough such that the ill effects can be minimized to a large extent.
  • The last and the best way of reducing the ill effects of air pollution in the long run is through vegetation. Plants and trees reduce the pollutants in the air to the maximum. Ideally, plants in areas of high pollution will be extremely effective.