Vacuum in the “Air”
Air pollution is one of the predominant causes of death across the world, and has been established as a potential reason for increase in Asthma, respiratory infections. The relationship between the concentration of pollutants and the incidence of increase in patients due to asthma, pneumonia, respiratory infections, suggest that air quality should be incorporated into predictive models to assist health systems and health care in planning service requirements.
As per Global Burden of Disease, air pollution is a major health risk worldwide — outdoor PM2.5 (particulate matter) and Ozone pollution accounted for an estimated 3 million and 0.5 million premature deaths, respectively, and household (indoor) air pollution for an additional 1.6 million premature deaths. For India the numbers are 680,000 for outdoor PM2.5, 145,000 for outdoor ozone, and 480,000 for household pollution.
The Smart Air has analyzed 2021 air pollution data for 540 major cities from 182 countries to find out the “25 Most Polluted Cities in the World”. The capital city Delhi ranks third in the list, while Ghaziabad in neighboring Uttar Pradesh ranks second after Lahore. Delhi finds mention two times in the list — once at third position and New Delhi at the fifth position.
The capital’s increasing air pollution index has always been a matter of health concern. In an attempt to control the air pollution, Delhi Chief Minister, inaugurated the first Smog Tower in Connaught Place at the cost of ₹20 crores despite battling the CoVID and economy crisis.
What the “smog tower” does?
- The tower’s major mainstay — the air filters, a total of 5,000 required being installed to make air pure for inhaling. Also, the tower is just 24 m tall and projected to help improve air quality in a radius of around 1 km.
- The filtering efficiency of amount of air in 60 minutes is 0.000002% in the summer and 0.00002% in the winter
- The cost of one smog tower is ₹22 crore+ operations and maintenance.
- The number of machines that are attached the tower are huge, which constantly connected to power supply 24*7*365 could cause severe noise pollution.
The smog tower is termed as “pilot study for 2 years” to ascertain the effectiveness. Unsure whether 50+ crores would be that worth?
Is there an Eco-friendly solution to this?
Due to the advantages of good heat-resistance, environmental-friendliness, and low cost, bamboo has become a promising alternative and solution for adiabatic cooling. The design to purify air can be retrofitted with bamboo bars powered by solar and use of recycling water (or even rain water) to produce the cooling effect. The air can be filtered without any electrical machines as in case of smog towers. This protects both environment from pollution without much damage unlike traditional outdoor purifiers.
An user’s design of a bamboo based adiabatic cooling tower,
- All the materials used are Eco-friendly, locally produced and sourced, which does not require much maintenance unlike smog towers.
- The grey or rain water could be used for cooling and the device can be powered using solar panels, which provides more energy efficient and also no other machines are being used, hence no noise pollution. Solar panels could also help in night operation when pollution levels are quite higher.
- The real solution is to purify the air and enable people to inhale clean air within the surroundings (< 1000 m) from the installed location. Bamboo based tower not only help in purifying the air within the required area but also provides cool air. The filtering efficiency is yet to be determined which can be tested as part of pilot installations across cities.
These bamboo based purifiers can find its place close to schools, traffic junctions, market, residential and even in industrial areas where minimal power supply and more people move around every hour.
Air quality management is need of minute
The air pollution problem in India is year-round. The winter months (November, December, January, and February) are the worst but every other month in India is mostly affected due to space heating, garbage burning (waste dump) across all cities.
One key lesson from the lock downs worldwide, is that air pollution can be reduced locally and globally by reducing the emissions. While the messages are clear that air pollution is the leading cause of health impacts and “clean air” is only possible by addressing the emissions at the sources. Installing sustainable and cost effective solutions are the need of the minute. The long term air quality management should be centered around more Eco-friendly solutions that reduce green house gases or CO2 emissions.
After all, Breathing “clean air” is our birth right.