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Conserve energy – at home, at work, everywhere

Conserve energy – at home

With an exclusive interview with Confer Global, Ajay Pannu, Head Health, Safety & Environment, DuPont India Limited shared his insights on the major factors for current air quality and multiple technologies to combat pollution.

Q: What are the major factors for the current air quality in the country?

A: India ranks among the world’s most polluted countries. Out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 13 are in India. In which, Delhi is the most polluted city in the world today.

Major sources leading to high levels of air pollution in India are:

Burning of Fossil Fuels: Sulphur dioxide emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and other factory combustibles

Agricultural Activities: Ammonia released from agriculture related activities acts as a pollutant to the atmosphere.

Exhaust from Factories and Industries: Manufacturing industries releasing pollutants such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, organic compounds, and chemicals into the air thereby depleting the quality of air.

Mining Operations: Dust and chemicals are released in the air causing air pollution.

Vehicular Pollution: Vehicles are increasing daily. Delhi alone has more than 1 crore registered vehicles, which add pollution to the atmosphere.

Indoor Air Pollution: Household cleaning products, painting supplies emit toxic chemicals in the air and cause air pollution.

Air pollutants are being let out into the atmosphere from a variety of sources, and the concentration of pollutants in the ambient air depends not only on the quantities that are emitted but also the ability of the atmosphere, either to absorb or disperse these pollutants.

Q: What are the initiatives taken by your organisation to reduce the air pollutants?

A: There are many daily life initiatives that has been taken not only by the organsation but also by the workforce,

  • Conserve energy – at home, at work, everywhere.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying home or office equipment.
  • Conserve electricity and set air conditioners no lower than 25 degrees C.
  • Reduce the number of trips you take in your car.
  • Carpool, use public transportation, bike, or walk whenever possible.
  • Choose a cleaner commute – share a ride to work or use public transportation.
  • Avoid excessive idling of your automobile.
  • Keep vehicle engines properly tuned.
  • Be sure the vehicle tires are properly inflated.
  • Avoid burning leaves, trash, and other materials.
  • Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible.

Q: What technologies do you think can help to combat the issues?

A: Power generation: We already know that nuclear power is a way of producing electricity free of carbon emissions, but we have yet to harness it in a way that is truly safe and cost-effective. “Fusion produces zero greenhouse gas emissions, emitting only helium as exhaust. It also requires less land than other renewable technologies,”. “Fusion energy is considered inherently safe, with zero possibility of a meltdown scenario and no long-lived waste, and there is enough fusion fuel to power the planet for hundreds of millions of years.”

Transport: Transport represents 23% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. But the demand for transport is only going to increase. We have already found alternative ways of powering vehicles, such as with electricity, but in order to do it on a wide scale, we need much more efficient batteries and much more efficient battery-charging technology.

Food: About a quarter of all global emissions come from feeding the world’s 7 billion people, and part of that comes from the consumption of meat. “There is no way to produce enough meat for 8.5 billion people (estimated population by the year 2030). One of the alternatives is to start producing lab-grown meat, and to produce meat substitutes that look, taste and feel like the real thing.

Manufacturing: Making the things we use every day puts an enormous strain on the climate – about 30% of emission come from industry. But what if we could take those CO2 emissions out of the air? (Taking carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and then using it to produce fuel. )

Building: The greenhouse gas emissions of buildings is also significant. We need lighting, power, heating and cooling whether at home or in the office, at school or in a hospital. The combined emissions from these sources contributes almost 20% of global emissions. Part of the answer is to build smarter cities. To overcome the pollution issue, eco-friendly construction technologies should be designed, that can help to reduce air pollution. These technologies contribute in bringing down the air pollution effect and take the construction work to a whole new level.

Different Environmental-Friendly Construction Materials: Green Buildings are the major construction witnessed presently and is a part of the contribution towards green environment. Green products are the part of this construction used worldwide. One way to reduce air pollution is by using eco-friendly construction products made by professional companies.

Controlling Air Pollution: When it comes to curbing air pollution there are different control systems. Forward looking companies are doing their best by releasing effective systems including odour control, soluble contamination capture and others which are highly appreciated by construction companies.

Earning the Green Building Certificate: Waterless construction or green building construction does not only help to reduce air pollution but also in getting Green Building Certification. This certificate is offered in buildings that follow complete eco-friendly construction methods. Right from fixing the first brick to complete the last leg of the construction, use of eco-friendly technologies will certainly help in contributing towards healthy environment around.

Q: What are the impacts of current air quality on health?

A: The main pollutants in the air are;

  • Sulphur dioxide – From the burning of fossil fuels, mostly power stations.
  • Nitrogen dioxide – Highest levels found close to road traffic or indoor gas cookers.
  • Ozone (ground-level) – Caused by chemical reactions between natural, traffic and industrial pollution in strong sunlight.
  • Particulate matter (PM) – Solid particles or liquid droplets in the air, primarily from road traffic. When smaller than 2.5 micrometers (that’s 60 times thinner than a human hair), they are known as PM2.5. Larger particles, which could be dirt or dust stirred up from vehicles are known as PM10.
  • Metals, including lead, mercury, arsenic – Less of a problem in some countries due to controls on emissions. Iron and steel sectors dominate lead emissions, while disposal of treated wood by burning is source of arsenic.

These increased pollutants, impact various parts of human body, which results in many diseases

Lungs – Suppresses normal lung growth in children. Accelerates lung function decline or an ageing lung in adults and a known cause of lung cancer. Also linked to onset of asthma.

Pancreas – Linked to onset of type 2 diabetes in adults.

Heart – Linked to the development of cardiovascular diseases, such as a stroke and heart disease, including atherosclerosis (furring of the arteries). Can also exacerbate existing conditions.

Brain – Exposure of pregnant women found to affect to fetal brain growth. Also impacts mental and physical development in children and cognition in adults.

Q: Do we have infrastructure to implement large scale measures?

A: Blue prints and actions do exist theoretically but implementation is a challenge in countries like India. 

Q: Are the governments going too slow or too fast with the measures to improve the air quality and environment?

A: The government is taking steps in the direction to improve the air quality & environment. But still there’s much to do in this regard.

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