Asian child protects himself against air pollution by wearing mouth mask Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Gulf News’ coverage of air pollution could not have come at a more opportune time as the need for seriously addressing the perils of breathing contaminated air are mostly ignored by everyone (“Choking India should clear the air”, Gulf News, May 5).Although Western governments are keen on protecting their borders when it comes to environmental concerns, Asian countries still lag in enforcing strict measures for reducing the presence of pollutants in the air. Bureaucratic and political corruption, lack of awareness, and government regulations all have contributed to the current situation. Air pollution is a modern day curse, primarily attributed to urbanisation and industrialisation. Mostly found in the form of carbon monoxide and sulphur oxide, air pollution is known to inflict serious damage to the health of people and animals. It can be an invisible killer.

According to a 2018 report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that pollution causes 7 million deaths each year. Also according to a 2016 report by WHO, 92 per cent of the population today lives where air quality is poor. However, it has been identified that ambient air pollution affects functions of the lungs, besides leading to respiratory infections and asthma. It is a growing threat and urgency must be created by nations. Few reports also testify that India and China face major threats of ambient air pollution while Saudi Arabia has to tackle the highest particle pollution levels. Although there is an urgent need for third world countries to wake up to the gravity of the issue without delay, many states lack the technical knowledge to reduce the air polluting factors and should seek the help from developed nations. A concerted effort would help finding solutions to the growing threat of environmental pollution and it needs to start with formulating an effective policy that defines consensus, goals and objectives. Such an initiative would require investment in technology that produces cleaner energy, facilitating pollution free transport and waste management. While WHO is providing country level support for achieving these goals, its campaigns also warrants sustainable efforts and commitment from states to see tangible results. A paradigm shift through the evolution of future industrial and manufacturing activities would primarily determine how effectively we are going to regain the air quality. Deforestation has been one the major factors that led to the elevation of harmful gases in the air. A consolidated effort with the aim of promoting tree planting would go a long way in transforming it into a culture.

- The reader is a resident of Dubai