Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 24 May 2024 1.46 PM IST

Air quality crisis in capital: Rising concerns and urgent calls for action


Breathing clean air is indeed a fundamental human right, albeit not explicitly stated in the Constitution. As everyone bears equal responsibility for the gradual degradation of our air quality, it has become a paramount concern for people globally. Yesterday, we published alarming figures regarding the deteriorating air quality in the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. With frequent news reports highlighting the escalating air pollution levels in the national capital Delhi, residents of Thiruvananthapuram are understandably worried having once felt a sense of distance from such concerns.

Air quality is primarily determined by the concentration of particulate matter in the atmosphere. The latest report from IQ Air, an international air quality technology company, reveals significantly high levels of particulate matter below 2.5 microns (PM 2.5) in Thiruvananthapuram, far exceeding the World Health Organization's recommended levels. Ranging from 22.3 to 44.5 instead of the recommended 10, these levels are concerning for a city like Thiruvananthapuram, which is not known for heavy industrial activity. The city's greenery, symbolized by its nickname "Ananthapuri," should ideally ensure better air quality compared to industrial hubs like Kochi.

Experts attribute the deteriorating air quality in the capital to rapid urbanization, rather than industrialization. Urbanization, marked by extensive construction activities, contributes significantly to air pollution through the emission of concrete dust and carbon from vehicles. While industrialization poses its own risks, urbanization exacerbates pollution at lower thresholds, particularly due to construction-related activities. Unfortunately, halting construction projects is not a viable solution to preserving air quality.

Efforts to mitigate air pollution include the use of dust nets at construction and road sites to contain fine dust particles and prevent their dispersion into the air. Additionally, spraying water on construction sites helps settle dust and cool the air. However, relying solely on voluntary compliance from contractors is insufficient. The government must establish regulations and guidelines for dust control to ensure widespread adherence. Ultimately, it is incumbent upon everyone to recognize their role in safeguarding air quality, as good health begins with access to clean air.

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