Smoke: It Simply Smothers

It increases volume of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, thus contributing to global warming in a big way
Smoke: It Simply Smothers
Representational Pic

Human activities generate their own results. Any imbalances in our acts, result in disparities outside. Somewhere a terrifying ,scarcity somewhere baffling plentitude. Some suffer starvation, some have storage problems. Some fear under-population, others are haunted by overpopulation.

One of the problems, that is a direct result of our wrong acts, is pollution. With an unabated urbanization and industrialization worldwide, follow the different types of pollution. Smoke, by burning of leaves, twigs, or woods in open is one of the constituents of air and environmental pollutions. The biomass waste burning is a dreadful thing, as it releases large amount of airborne pollutants which include pernicious particles & gases, fine bits of dust and soot. The smoke also increases volume of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide which are stated to be major contributors to global warming inhibiting the life on the planet.

In many rural areas the smoke generated by burning of leaves is a major source of air pollution. This pollution being gaseous spreads everywhere. Experts opine that carbon dioxide mingles with the haemoglobin in the red blood cells (RBC) and reduces the amount of oxygen in blood; this affects adversely the working of human body. Exposed to a large amount of smoke, a person can collapse and may die instantly. Even a normal healthy person caught in a smoky ambience experiences trouble. Patients suffering from asthma, bronchitis, cardiac disease, lung and ophthalmological ailments are at a great degree of risk. As the biomass burning is estimated to produce 40 percent carbon dioxide, 32 percent carbon monoxide, and 50 percent of carcinomas substance, it is dangerous to underestimate the problem.

Excessive and continuous burning of leaves leads to the formation of smog that effects the general visibility, something that haunts a city like Delhi during winter. A number of fatal accidents have occurred, even though blazing front and rear lights of the vehicles are on during day time. Alarming rise in air pollution in Delhi and the peripheral areas compelled the Hon’ble Supreme Court to take a suo-motu cognizance of the issue of air pollution. The quality of air in Delhi, as said, oscillates between severe and very poor degrees. The apex court banned all construction and demolition activities along with burning of garbage & waste in the region. The Hon’ble Court ordered that people could not be left to die due to worse than emergency situation. It asked that those carrying construction and demolition works despite its orders would be fined. It added that a penalty of Rs.5,000/ would be imposed on any one found guilty of burning garbage & waste in the area. Emphasizing the seriousness of the issue the apex court ordered that in case of any violation, the local administration and the zonal officers would be held responsible. The top court was so much seized of the matter that it could not contend with silence but told that prevailing situation in the area was a blatant violation of the right to life. It referred to scientific data which suggested that life span of those living in the region had reduced due to air pollution. If the reports in some newspapers in the recent past are true, some oxygen plants have been set up which prepare and sell fresh air/oxygen sealed in bottles.

The burning of leaves is a seasonal thing. In autumn it reaches its climax when almost all the trees shed leaves and the turf turns dry. Unmindful of the harmful effects, some people use it as fodder also for the bovine. Some choose burning as a way out. It may be recalled that excessive and un-required use of fungicides, insecticides and pesticides, sprayed on leaves to ward off diseases gets absorbed making the smoke more fatal. The animal population also gets effected and involved in diseases, telling upon their biological potency with consequential decrease in their reproductive capacity. Moreover, use of chemicals causing premature colouring & ripening of fruits adds to the problem.

Spontaneous forest fires and those erupting due to human negligence are no less aggravators for air pollution. The fallen leaves in orchards to check the re-growth of some harmful elements too leads to air pollution. Environmental and the chemical experts must make a concerted effort to find a solution to this problem. Burying such leaves in pits, to a depth these cannot contaminate the quality of soil, or converting it into some fruitful manure, can be a good alternative.

The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.

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