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Be aware of Indoor Air Pollutants

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We all have emphasized on air pollution always. However, many of us are not aware of the several gases and organic compounds, which constantly act as pollutants in the air within the house. Constant exposure to such compounds even in minimum quantities can have an unfavorable impact on well-being and health.

Below is the list of few common indoor pollutants –

Formaldehyde

This is a naturally occurring organic compound found in many domestic products such as particle-board, plywood, building materials, paints, glues, cosmetics, and paper products, etc.

Exposure to formaldehyde causes irritation in eyes, throat, nose, and skin. It also leads to some cancers when exposed to high levels.

Benzene

The organic compound, Benzene is commonly released in the air from building materials, plywood, furniture, and particle-board. LPG cooking gas also contributes to the levels of Benzene in the air.

Apart from this, photocopying machines or printers in homes as well as in offices also release benzene. Furthermore, smoking inside a home can be a major contributor to benzene in the indoor air. Exposure to this organic pollutant leads to insomnia, dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

Carbon Mono Oxide

The major sources of Carbon mono oxide are gases are cigarette smoke and smoke from vehicles.

It could be one of the worst indoor air pollutants if your house is located near to a busy road with automobiles or you regularly smoke inside the house. Inhaling carbon monoxide regularly can lead to dizziness, fatigue, irregular breathing, headache, nausea, and coughing.

Toluene

Toluene is another organic compound, released in the air by chemical cleaners, building materials, adhesive products, polishes, and oils, etc.

Exposure to toluene causes eye, nasal and throat irritation. It also causes dizziness, headaches, and feelings of intoxication. It also has neurological impacts that affect short-term memory.

Xylene

This is an organic compound, which is volatile in nature. The compound is found in adhesives, paints, rust preventers, gasoline, thinners and permanent magic markers.

Exposure to Xylene leads to irritation in the epidermis, eyes, nasal system and throat, breathing disorders and dizziness.

Ammonia

Ammonia is an odorless gas released by construction material. It is also released by human beings while urinating.

Exposure to high levels of ammonia leads to nausea, headaches, burning sensation in eyes, nose, throat, and skin.

Trichloroethylene

Trichloroethylene is also a volatile organic compound released by lubricants, varnishes, adhesives, paint removers, typewriter correction fluid, and chemical cleaners.

Exposure to trichloroethylene impacts the immune and reproductive systems, kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. It may also affect fetal development during pregnancy.

These are the indoor air pollutants, we should be aware of. In order to remove these pollutants from the air, we can keep small indoor potted plants that purify the indoor air and bring significant positive influence on our health.

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Sonali Patnaik is majorly into secondary research and report writing. She is an avid reader and reads a variety of novels, a music lover and a movie buff. She also loves to travel and fond of cooking experiments. She expresses her views on various topics and does so through her well-researched articles.



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Perils of the plastic pollution: alarming time ahead!

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Every piece of plastic ever disposed of (this includes the toothbrush your great-grandfather used) is damaging the earth. It’s lying somewhere in the earth, floating in the ocean, or been broken down into micro-particles and in the food chain. Although a fraction of the plastic disposed of is recycled, most of it eventually ends up in the ocean or in dumpsites outside city limits. The best way to reduce plastic pollution is to reduce and phase out its consumption. Solutions range from carrying your own reusable steel glass, box, spoon and cloth bag while eating out or shopping for groceries to using alternatives to plastic for household items.

Plastics are organic polymers of high molecular mass and often contain other substances. They are usually synthetic, mainly derived from petrochemicals. Their low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, non-corrosiveness, and imperviousness to water, plastics make them useful for multiple purposes at different scales. Further, many chemists, including Nobel laureate Hermann Staudinger (father of polymer chemistry) and Herman Mark (father of polymer physics), have contributed to the materials science of plastics. However, these scientists could not have anticipated such exponential growth of plastic production.

 

India consumes an estimated 16.5 million tonnes, about 1.6 million trucks full of plastic annually, as per this June 2018 report in Down to Earth that cites data provided by PlastIndia Foundation, a conglomeration of associations and institutions that deal in plastic. Of this, 43% is plastic manufactured for single-use packaging material that will mostly find its way into garbage bins, the report said. In all, 80% of the total plastic produced in India is discarded. It mostly ends up choking landfills, drains, and rivers and flows into the sea where it is ingested by marine animals. It leaches into soil and water, contaminating the natural environment with poisonous dioxins.

National Green Tribunal rapped 25 states and union territories for not following its orders on submitting a plan by April 30, 2019, on how they would comply with the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has pulled up 52 companies — including Amazon, Flipkart, Danone Foods and Beverages and Patanjali Ayurved Limited — for not specifying a timeline or a plan to collect the plastic waste that results from their business activities.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018. In 2016, the Union government implemented the Plastic Waste Management Rules and Solid Waste Management Rules. But the rules faced various challenges. Based on representations received from various stakeholders, MoEF&CC had constituted a committee to resolve such issues.

At least 40% of the plastic waste generated every day–25,940 tonnes or about 2,594 truckloads, as per this 2015 CPCB study for the year 2011-12–goes uncollected. Thin plastic bags and films do not have enough value in the recycling market–they fetch no more than Rs 4 a kg–to be collected by rag pickers.

There are numerous reasons for Plastic Pollution.  The vast network of unlicensed units manufacturing low-grade plastic bags and other material such as Styrofoam and the indifferences of municipal authorities to waste management is certainly the main causes of the pollution. Another important factor which is adding to the injury is India able to recycle only about 4 million tonnes and at the same time before the re-imposition of the plastic waste import ban in March 2019, Indian recycling firms were importing plastic waste from China, Italy, Japan, and Malawi.

Plastic Pollution can have some serious repercussion such as it can upset the food chain as it comes in sizes large and small, polluting plastics even affect the world‘s tiniest organisms such as plankton. When these organisms become poisoned due to plastic ingestion, this causes problems for the larger animals that depend on them for food and water conservation is already a concern in places ranging from California to parts of India, but the world‘s water is in great danger because of leaking plastics and waste. Similarly land is critically polluted when plastic is dumped in landfills; it interacts with water and forms hazardous chemicals. When these chemicals seep underground, they degrade the water quality. The wind carries and deposits plastic from one place to another, increasing the land litter. Recently as we experience the menace of air pollution, burning of plastic in the open air, leads to environmental pollution due to the release of poisonous chemicals. The polluted air when inhaled by humans and animals affect their health and can cause respiratory problems. It also kills animals despite countless TV ads over the years showing ducks or dolphins trapped in six-ring plastic can holders, these items are still used and discarded en masse each day. It is heavily poisonous. Man artificially makes plastic by using a number of toxic chemicals. Therefore, the use of and exposure to plastics has been linked to a number of health concerns affecting people around the world.

India is reckoned to generate over 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day. The residues can stain the environment and natural resources for hundreds of years. Plastic toxicity is known for its enduring adverse effects on territorial and aquatic life. In food, it can alter human hormones to cause major life-threatening diseases. Plastic materials, especially bags and bottles strewn on roads, have been noticed to cause flooding by blocking drains. They also kill stray cattle by choking.

Plastics are not totally dispensable as their use seems desirable in certain situations. In fields like agriculture and automobiles, packaging, information technology, and biomedical industries, they are relevant. But their non-degradability and emission of toxic gases on combustion and incineration are growing concerns. It is thus imperative to manage plastic debris appropriately and at the same, It would be advisable to reassess the new set of rules and switch back to the 2016 plastic waste management norms.

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Avoid constructions on river banks in hilly areas to stay safe

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The havoc created by the ongoing rains and the cloud burst incidents have led to excessive swelling of rivers and dangerous landslides.
This has not only damaged roads and washed away houses but has killed several people and domestic animals. The colossal loss to people and properties in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh has taught the people and the respective governments a good number of lessons.
In Uttarakhand, during the last week, the toll had crossed fifty numbers. The massive ecological disaster of 2013 that took place in Kedarnath and its surrounding areas due to massive cloud bursts and excessive rain, killed thousands of people. This incident had also sent several signals of the impending dangers to the people, successive governments of the state and to the center.
Whenever there is overflooding of rivers and massive deluges, the inhabitants living alongside the river banks and plains suffer the most. At the very first instance, they lose their agricultural fields, houses, domestic animals and also their lives. The reason being that builders, Dhabawallas, hoteliers and local residents deliberately forget the risks involved in constructing their houses and buildings near the river banks. All this for immediate gains.
When the rivers swell beyond capacity because of incessant heavy rains and accumulate a humongous quantity of water due to cloud bursts the buildings, commercial establishments, shops, etc built on these river banks are directly affected. The inhabitants living in them are the direct victims. They get washed away, get pressed under huge debris of landslides or even under the damaged houses because their foundations get badly eroded. During the ecological disaster of June 15, 2013, even multistorey houses and hotels constructed on the river banks of the Alaknanda river fell like a pack of cards and killed several people. Hundreds of vehicles, even trucks, tempos and trolleys got swept away.
There are clear cut instructions in Uttarakhand and the ruling from the ministry of environment also mentions that no structure should come up within a specified parametre or distance from the rivers or on its adjoining banks or plains. This is probably up to 500 meters. Despite several horrific ecological disasters and monsoon tragedies, it seems that the people of Uttarakhand and its administration have not learned any lesson. This is a dangerous trend and has led to several deaths till date. It is not wise to blame nature, it is the attitude of these human beings and the state administration who can be blamed for these tragedies. The occupants and the tourists throw their rubbish, plastic, faecal, construction material and other dirt into the pious rivers and make them squeezed and polluted. Human beings embrace death and devastation by encroaching and going too near these rivers. First and foremost, the mining mafia which cuts down trees on these river banks and thus makes them hollow should be thrown out fiercely.
Eminent Environmentalist Sunder Lal Bahuguna’s son Rajeev Nayan Bahuguna who is a senior journalist,
while advising the people of Uttarakhand after the tragic death of about fifty people wrote: ‘Never ever build houses on the banks/plains of rivers and the monsoon rivulets. The ancestors never built their houses on these river banks. Residing on riverbanks leads to destruction and devastation for sure. There used to be Gharaats on river banks in an earlier era and that too at quite a distance. Construction of houses, hotels, restaurants has started since a decade. The political class and the lawmakers allegedly siphon off huge funds in the name of new construction. They are least worried about the safety and the well being of people. Therefore we should give up constructing structures on river banks and avoid these tragedies.’
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Amazing Congo Rainforest

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Located in central Africa, the world’s second-largest rainforest widely known as The Congo Basin Rainforest covers about 1.5 million square miles. Although a major portion of the Congo Rainforest is in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), substantial areas fall in Gabon, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic.

Common Facts of Congo Rainforest

  1. The Congo rainforest is considered as one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world.
  2. The second largest river of the world, The Congo River, runs through the rainforest.
  3. Though the climate is warm and wet with an average temperature of 25°C, the average rainfall is over 58 inches annually.
  4. Five of the national parks in the Congo Rainforest are declared as UN World Heritage Sites.
  5. Pygmies are the group of tribal ethnicities mostly found in Congo Basin. The short stature people with an average height of 4- 4.5 feet survive by foraging and hunting.

Amazing Fauna Facts

  1. The Congo rainforest is home to approximately 450 species of mammals, 200 types of amphibians, 300 species of reptiles, and over 1,000 species of birds.
  2. It is the only place on earth where all types of gorillas can be seen. The types include all three subspecies the lowland gorilla, the mountain gorilla, and the eastern lowland gorilla. Bonobos, an endangered great ape, which is considered to be the closest relatives to human beings are found here only.

3. The Congo rainforest is also a habitat for the African forest elephant. The distinguishable characteristics of the African forest elephant are its smaller frame and downward-projecting tusks.

4. Okapi is an African mammal that appears like a crossbreed of a giraffe and a horse. Therefore, it is often called zebra giraffe or forest giraffe. Its brown color body with white striped legs provides the mammal a totally mesmerizing appearance. The animal is found only in the rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

5. The black colobus or satanic black colobus is a species of Old World monkey of the genus colobus. These are large in size and covered with black fur with no thumb as in all other colobus monkeys. Owing to hunting and habitat destruction, the black colobus species has encountered large declines in population and was consequently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List in 1994. These endangered species are found in high canopies of the Congo rainforest.

Congo Rainforest Plant Facts

  1. The Congo rainforests is also a habitat to over 11,000 species of flora. The vegetation here is so dense that in most of the parts only 1% of the sunlight reaches the ground.
  2. Many cancer Institutes have identified about 1,400 plants in the rainforest could potentially be used to fight cancer.
  3. Lianas, which appear like more of vines, are common in the Congo rainforest and can grow up to three thousand feet or 914 meters long.

4. Another common flora found in these rainforests is the teak trees that grow up to 50 meters or 154 feet high. Since teak trees are always in high demand for its wood, it has become the primary reasons for the alarming rate of deforestation in the forest.

These amazing facts help understand why this rainforest is one of the most incredible African landforms.

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Ten things we should do to SAVE EARTH

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Today the environment has become a serious concern as the wrath of Mother Nature clearly indicates the consequences of being irresponsible and careless towards the environment for centuries.

Now people have come forward to save the earth by practicing even little things every day that can really help in reducing carbon footprints, greenhouse gases and conserving the environment.
Therefore let’s go green by practicing below ten things.

1. Follow 3R rule.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle are the three things that we need to pay attention to our everyday life. Reducing, reusing or recycling daily household trash can significantly reduce pollution.
Cultivate a habit of throwing household waste in separate garbage-bins per them, so that these waste materials can be reused or recreated. Also, we should use products that come with minimal packaging. This little practice in our day to day life is the first step towards conservation of natural resources and landfill space.

2. Volunteer yourself for cleaning up your society or surroundings.

Avoid throwing any waste on roads or in your surroundings further.

3. Educate people.

Bring awareness among people by educating them on environmental pollution and help them to understand the value and importance of our natural resources.

4. Save water.

Water is the most important natural resource and minimum use of water has become one of the biggest challenges that we are facing nowadays. Statistically, 65 percent of the daily usage of water is used in the bathroom. This can be minimized by taking shorter showers instead of taking a bath. Try not to leave the tap running while brushing your teeth.

5. Go for sustainable eating habits.

Food production is a major reason for the extinction of wildlife. Our eating habits are responsible for almost 60% of global biodiversity loss. Therefore, adopting a plant-based diet instead of a meat-dominated diet can minimize the impact on the environment.

6. Shop mindfully.

Try to buy less plastic products or materials and make a habit of using reusable shopping bags.

7. Save energy.

Usage of long-lasting or energy-efficient light bulbs will minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Also make sure to switch off the lights, fans, coolers or ACs while leaving the room.

8. Plant a tree.

We all know that trees provide food and oxygen. Afforestation helps save energy, clean the air, and help combat climate change. Therefore, try to plant more and more trees in your surroundings.

9. Don’t throw chemicals into the natural water bodies.

Try to use non-toxic chemicals in the home and office.

10. Drive less.

Try to share vehicles or carpool whenever possible. Go for public transports more often or ride a bicycle to work, school, and supermarket. In this way, we can help in reducing emission and it will also help us economically.

If we can practice these simple things every day, it can help in reducing the global consequences and make a big transformation in the long run.

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Environment

When would the NAMAME GANGE project really fructify?

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The union government has formulated a separate ministry for cleaning pious Ganges and Yamuna and has already allotted about twenty thousand crores for this highly over ambitious project with the prime minister Narendra Modi himself taking personal interest in the matter, having visited Varanasi Ghat number of times and even brought two foreign heads of the state there. This flagship initiative of PM Modi known as Namaame Gange was started in 2014 with a budget of Rs 4000 crores later on enhanced to 20000 crores with the objective to get Ganga rid of its worst pollution and modernising its ghats from starting till end including giving it entirely a new high tech look making it river sports friendly too.

The seriousness of the prime minister in Ganga’s cleanliness and rejuvenation can be gauged from the fact that not only has he enhanced the budget of this head, from 4 thousand to twenty thousands crores but has also shunted out the former minister Uma Bharti after having found her incompetent on this score.

But the moot point is what’s the use of these credible intiatives at the PM’s level when despite so much of seriousness on Narendra Modi’s part things are not crystallizing or concretely materialising at the ground level. Though lot of work seem to have been started on this front as given us to understand, the incessantly deteriorating condition of the Ganga at Haridwar, Rishikesh and even at Varanasi unambiguously gives an impression that things are still at square on and very little or negligible is being actually done to clean the Ganges considered to be the pious diety holding special religious and spiritual significance for billions of Indians from all over the country and abroad.

Even today good number huge drains carrying thousands of tonnes of rubbish, human excreata n faeces, chemicals and poisionous waste of the leather industries called tanneries fall into this river compounded with myriad amount of plastics, polythenes, human waste and material used in spiritual activities all along the route from Haridwar to Allahabad. I remember when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister he too had started a Clean Ganga project incurring hundreds of thousands of crores but finally it was given up for the reasons best known to the government who put it in cold storage.

Last year in one of the Ganga Ghats several human corpses were found on the banks of filthy Ganges. During the season of KAAVAD, lakhs and lakhs of Lord Shiva devotees from all over the country throng Haridwar and Rishikesh and literally make mess of the area by leaving behind hundreds of thousands of killograms of rubbish, polythine and plastic bottles including left overs n dirty clothes thus polluting the already polluted Ganga.

The insanitary condition of the river banks and ghats where one can see massive amount of dirt, leftovers, human excreata and plastic materials, unambiguously speak of the sorry state of our local municipalities and the various state governments as well, who literally show THENGA to the clean Ganga and Swach Bharat flagship campaigns of prime minister’ Narendra Modi who earnestly seems to be too serious on both these counts. What is more shocking is the fact that the tributaries of Ganga like Yamuna and Hindon etc are in extremely bad, ugly and dying phase and more than 2000 crores worth of money has already been spent with no result in sight.

A recent survey by one of the prestigious pollution control body has revealed in its indept analysis that Ganga water even posseses myriad amount of faecal contents not prone to drinking purpose and desease prone as well thus throwing a direct challenge to the river’s pious relevance. The more shocking revelation by the principal scientist of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute Dr. V Kripa says that going by the current trend of increasing unchecked plastic prevalance in oceons and rivers of the country, by the year 2050 about 850 million metric tons of plastic will accumulate in the oceon compared to 821 million metric tons of fish. This is really shocking and highly disturbing a revelation.

Since the day BJP led NDA assumed power at the centre, almost four years have passed and we are heading for another national election but Ganga rejuvenation project seems to have stuck on the way, somewhere, with no hope of the Ganges becoming really clean. What would be the answer of this government to the people on on this pivotal issue, on whose mandate it came to power in 2014 and would again be striving hard to repeat it in 2019, is anybody’s guess. What’s your take friends?
SUNIL NEGIP

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Environment

The Ganges River: Efforts to maintain its holiness

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Indian government has spent less than a 25% of the funds available for a mission to clean up the river Ganga over the past two years. This information has come to light after a federal audit, which has cited various lapses in the core planning and overall financial management of this flagship scheme.

The Modi government had only used approximately USD 260 million of the USD 1.05 billion that was allocated for the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) program for the period April 2015 to March 2017, this is according to a CAG report. The report also says that it is found in a survey that the water quality in eight of 10 towns along the Ganga did not meet the outdoor bathing standards. The160-page report was presented to parliament last week. Since then the water resources ministry, which is in charge of the NMCG, had been unable to respond to a request for comment.

PM Narendra Modi’s administration had committed USD 3 billion in the year 2015 for a five-year project to clean the 2,525-km long stretch of river that is heavily polluted despite it being a water source for more than 400 million people.

PM Narendra Modi, who himself represents the holy city of Varanasi, had made the clean-up of the river one of his key campaign promises in the 2014 general election, which he won with a heavy margin.

The Ganga river is one of the most revered rivers in the world but sadly also one of the most polluted. It is worshipped primarily by Hindus, who make up for about 80 % of India’s 1.3 billion population. Hindus call the river Ganga Mata, or mother Ganga, and they believe that a dip in the holy river absolves sins of a whole lifetime.

This river, stretching from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, is also used as dump for waste products, produced by hundreds of factories which flow untreated into the Ganges. It is time that the government reconsiders its position and takes strict measures to purify the most revered river in India.

 

-Archit

 

 

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