Save the Ailing Planet from Vehicular Pollution

Vehicles are the major source of air pollution in the urban areas. Vehicular exhaust, a by-product of fuel combustion contains potentially lethal chemical compounds such as carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and sulphur and unburnt hydro carbons. Vehicular pollution traces its source to fossil fuels that are burnt in mobile sources (all categories of motorized vehicles). During the past few years, various steps have been taken to reduce vehicular emissions and its effect is evident on ambient air quality.

The worst thing about vehicular pollution is that it cannot be avoided as the vehicular emissions are emitted at the near-ground level where we breathe. These emissions not only pollute the environment, but also pose variety of health risks for people. Pollution is the main reason behind skin cancers, asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory disorders. Even newborn children can get affected. The landmark legislation that was passed by the Government of India in this respect was the Air Pollution Act (1991).

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It was aimed at regulating and monitoring industrial and vehicular pollution across the country.In 1989, the Government notified emission control standards for two, three and four wheelers. Vehicular pollution in India can be traced to four main factors: • Poor fuel quality • Improper vehicle maintenance • Dated vehicle technology • Non-proactive traffic planning Following steps can be taken by the state and even individuals to save the environment. •Adopt energy efficient engines All vehicles must have 3 way catalysts and fuel controls so that they emit out less smog. They should be made mandatory by law as has been done by the state of California.

•Build an efficient public transport systemMore cars on roads mean more smog, increased pollution. Hence the need of the hour is to come up with a public transport system, which can reduce number of vehicles thereby reducing congestion, and also caters to the increasing population. •Use of alternate fuels Vehicles must be installed with engines that are fuelled by hydrogen, ethanol, methanol and natural gas. They are known as cleaner fuels because they release less CO 2 into the air. They are economical as they can be obtained from natural resources. •Introduction of battery operated or electric vehicles They run on the chemical energy stored in the battery, which is rechargeable.

Lithium batteries can be used for such vehicles. The emission is zero and is powered by motor controllers. Individuals can make following meaningful contributions in reducing vehicular pollution. •People can resort to riding bicycles for shorter distances. Cycles are absolutely safe for the environment and good for our bodies too.

Cycling is good form of exercise also. •Even walking should be encouraged for viable distances. Each of us holds a different key to unlocking a common solution. And clearing the smog of ignorance that hangs heavy over the future of our cities.