Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Need to clean Delhi air to stop irreversible damage to heart
Delhi today is grappling with hazardous air pollution as choking fumes from the burgeoning vehicle population and the smog that engulfed the national capital in past few months have worsen. Vehicles emitting toxic particulate matter (PM) are cited as the main pollutant especially during winter.
 
 
A study conducted by University of Surrey has found that New Delhi suffers from a “toxic blend of geography, growth, poor energy sources and unfavourable weather that boosts its dangerously high levels of air pollution”. Pollution has proven to have inflammatory effects on the heart, causing chronic cardiovascular problems.
 
The capital is infamously cited as the most polluted city in the world, with air pollution causing thousands of excess deaths in a year. Continues exposure to air pollution is known to have caused cardiovascular illness and mortality.
 
Pollution particles that are smaller than 2.5 microns are related to fuel combustion. They are so small in nature that they are almost invisible. Such particles enter the human body and cause irritation to the lungs and blood vessels around the heart. 
 
Delhi has turned into a toxic pollutant punchbowl with myriad ingredients and the government is pulling all strings to bring down the levels with the recent one being the odd-even vehicle concept. 
 
What is all the more spooky are the predictions that the number of road vehicles would increase from 4.7 million in 2010 to nearly 26 million by 2030! While the success of the odd-even formula is uncertain in the mega city with a population of 25.8 million, Delhiites are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping for the best. 
 
It is, hence, important to realise that combination of harmful nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter can disturb the heart rhythm. There is clinical evidence that clearly indicates the deleterious effects of ambient air pollution on health and its relation to heart disease and stroke.
 
Environmental air pollutants includes carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, ozone, lead and particulate matter and these are associated with increased hospitalisation and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, especially in people with congestive heart failure, frequent arrhythmias or both.
 
Motor vehicles are the main source of carbon monoxide - a odourless, colourless and tasteless gas that binds to hemoglobin with an affinity 250 times that of oxygen, thereby interfering with the systemic delivery of oxygen to tissues. Carbon monoxide can attain concentrations sufficient to physiologically meaningful increases in carboxyhemoglobin in people with cardiac conditions.
 
Studies show that cities with high nitrogen oxide concentrations had death rates four times higher than those with low nitrogen oxide concentrations. Harmful air pollutants can cause cardiovascular diseases such as artery blockages leading to heart attacks. 
 
A world heath organisation (WHO) study points out that 6.2 lakh people in India died due to air pollution related diseases in 2010. More than half the deaths were triggered by heart attacks!
 
Urban air pollution is directly linked to heart disease. The policymakers need to be educated on the types, sources and effects of the different kinds of particulate matters causing air pollution so that the emissions can be regulated before the irreversible damage to the heart.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article. 

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In a first, Taj Mahal tweets happy New Year to Eiffel Tower
In a perfect New Year greeting, the Taj Mahal and Statue of Liberty warmly greeted the Eiffel Tower as the 126-year-old monument joined the micro-blogging site Twitter for the first time this week.
 
“Welcome to Twitter, my sister,” tweeted Statue of Liberty on its handle @LaTourEiffel, later joined by the Taj Mahal -- indisputably the most famous example of Mughal architecture and a Unesco heritage site, The Telegraph reported on Monday.
 
“Parisian since 1889, now I am sparkling on Twitter!” said one of the first tweets on the official account of the 1,063 ft-high tower nicknamed La Grande Dame by its creator Gustave Eiffel.
 
According to the officials, they decided to open the Twitter account to provide “news about the Tower, historical facts as well as practical information”.
 
The Taj Mahal joined New York’s Empire State Building in welcoming the tall Paris tower to the world of tweets.
 
Eiffel Tower attracts more than seven million visitors from across the globe annually.
 
It has nearly 1.7 million fans on its Facebook account.
 
By Monday, its Twitter account had 18,300 followers.
 
The Louvre, the world’s most visited museum also welcomed Eiffel Tower, accompanied by a photo of the tower on the distant horizon taken from the museum’s rooftop.
 
Constructed in 1889, Eiffel Tower has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognisable structures in the world.
 
The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world.
 
It is 1,063 feet tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building.
 
During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930.
 
The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article. 

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Soaring pollution, crippling floods, laws awaiting implementation: India's environment in a fix
Pollution surfaced in unexpected ways -- like a lake in Bengaluru turning toxic and frothy with the industrial pollutants being mixed with the water
 
Soaring pollution levels, crippling floods, quivering Richter notes to scores of environment laws awaiting their implementation - this, in short, was India's environmental standing this year. As alarming as the climatic challenges posed to the nation have been, India is still found struggling to find the right laws to fight climate change, experts say.
 
India witnessed a challenging year in terms of its environmental conditions, starting the year with a title its capital city New Delhi earned last year -- the world's most polluted city according to the World Health Organisation --- which it retained this year as well. Delhi and cities surrounding it have surpassed the pollution levels of Beijing, which was the most polluted in the world until Delhi took its spot.
 
Pollution surfaced in unexpected ways -- like a lake in Bengaluru turning toxic and frothy with the industrial pollutants being mixed with the water. This incident caught not just national attention but that of the whole world.
 
The country's northern part was known to have exceeded pollution levels at many times of the year, which should have triggered a 'red alert' had it been in another country, according to environment body Greenpeace. "If India had an air quality monitoring system as robust as that of Beijing, a large portion of north India would have been on red alert for as many as 33 days," the NGO said recently, pointing to the necessity to establish stronger air monitoring systems across the country.
 
Even before the start of winter, which usually greets the northern states with hazy skies and smog covered days, the entire belt of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Chandigarh choked in smoke due to the paddy field fires -- the smoke which affected the country's climate even later for weeks, according to environmentalists.
 
But, according to Delhi-based environmentalist Vikrant Tongad, the year also saw the issue of air pollution being heard on a national and global level.
 
"The year saw some initiatives which were much needed to be addressed: like methods of tackling air pollution, making clear India's stand to fight climate on a global level et al, but solutions for the issues still remain to be found," Tongad told IANS.
 
Tongad said India never had such an "active" stance at the crucial UN Climate Change Conference, in standing up for the developing countries, as it had this year at the 21st Conference of Parties (CoP 21) held in Paris, he said. There are however some gaps in the deal signed, he added.
 
India, which had committed to cut its greenhouse emissions up to 35 percent by 2030, also pioneered the alliance of 120-odd nations to form the grand solar alliance, a move to harness solar energy better. India also bore a stern face in saying that the developed nations must contribute their part to reducing emissions and raising $100 billion a year to help developing ones. 
 
Indian interlocutors, who have been holding pride for introducing the terms "sustainable lifestyle" and "climate justice" to the preamble through Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have received criticism from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and other environment bodies for having no operational parts of these terms in the text, and hence no commitments.
 
CSE also felt that India will be under constant pressure to take more of a burden for mitigating climate change by 2020 and beyond, especially when the next review of all the nationally-determined contributions of countries take place.
 
As India made these commitments in Paris, the country's northern states remained fighting smog, while a majority of southern ones battled extreme untimely torrential rains that led to huge floods.
 
These rains, which lasted for over a week, lashed Chennai and other areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Besides drowning a major portion of Chennai in flood water, many parts of Tamil Nadu were severely affected due to flooding. These rains, which were the heaviest Tamil Nadu received in over a century left at least 169 people dead in the state, and 54 dead in Andhra Pradesh. With public transport, residences, office buildings and crops affected, Tamil Nadu has been struggling to get life back to normalcy.
 
Union Minister for Forests, Environment and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar termed the floods as "not a part of climate change" and said that they were a "localised event" and a "natural calamity", which the environmental groups rejected. According to CSE, "unregulated urbanisation and climate change-induced extreme weather" were the reason behind the flood crisis in Tamil Nadu and other states.
 
But this year it was quite commendable to see Indian courts taking active stand in pushing for cleaner air and to act against pollution, Tongad added, referring to the Delhi High Court asking the Delhi government to take stricter steps to battle the city's pollution. "It seems we are living in a gas chamber," the court had said, asking the Delhi government and the Centre to immediately act on reducing pollution in and around the capital.
 
The Supreme Court's recent decision to ban diesel vehicle registrations in the National Capital Region for three months and surrounding towns is also a much needed move, to fight a large amount of pollution caused by diesel vehicles, environment groups said.
 
This step has brought the whole nation's attention to fighting for a clean environment, he said. Following the Delhi High Court's orders, the Delhi government undertook the initiative in the capital to ration road space, allowing even and odd numbered vehicles to ply only on alternative days. But an initiative like this needs to be thought through, as it could lead to the people going for a second car, the National Green Tribunal said.
 
Instead of having laws which safeguard environment, the current government's attempt to amend the environment laws so as to allow better investments and bigger companies to be housed in the country is a scary move, environment activists said.
 
According to Environment Support Group (ESG), a Bengaluru-based trust which works to safeguard environment, the Draft Environment Laws (Amendment) Bill 2015, dated October 7, 2015 (which could perhaps be presented before parliament in the budget session) allows the government to "relax environment laws for better investments".
 
The draft, according to ESG, "pushes laws through the backdoor", and has been proposed by private firms Ernst and Young and Amarchand and Mangaldas and Company, whose interests are majorly "economical and environmental", said Bhargavi S. Rao, coordinator of the ESG.
 
"The country has been regressive in the past few years in terms of environment law amendments taking away right to participation from the communities. We have brought down our standards in terms of pollution tackling. Amendments which are being proposed could bring a disaster to the country. The amendments itself are violating environment principles in the name of development," Rao told IANS.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article. 

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