We have discussed in detail the ill-effects on the human health and our environment, and main causes (natural and human activities) of smog (a mix of smoke and fog as per definition) in our previous posts. We also saw what steps could be taken by our governments to prevent this black death hovering over our heads in so many large cities around the world. However, it’s important to realize that preventing this menace is not just our government’s responsibility, it has to be a collective effort with every single citizen making his/ her best effort to ensure those grey rolling clouds settling over our heads are never seen again.
We, the people
Naturally, the lead in this regard has to be taken by the government and governmental agencies in forming related laws and strictly enforcing them. Once these laws are in place, the enforcement agencies have to be vigilant to make sure people comply with them and pollution levels remain in control. Non-governmental organizations can play a major role by spreading the awareness about the ill effects of smog and steps that can be taken by the individuals and groups to prevent this dangerous phenomenon. They can also inform people about the anti-smog and anti-pollution laws in place and the penalties and punishment they face by breaking these laws.
Now, the onus is on the common man himself. Everyone of us can do their bit to reduce smog by making small changes in our behavioral patterns. So, what can we really do?
- Drive less– Not so long ago, we believed in walking or cycling more to reach our destinations, sometimes even long distances. This doubled as a physical exercise that not only kept us fit and healthy but also helped us keep our environment clean. Indians are among world’s most inactive nations (just around 4297 steps per day on an average as against the average of nearly 6880 steps of Hong Kong people). Avoid driving whenever possible and play your part in preventing smog.
- Be law abiding citizens– Don’t try to break rules whenever possible. Use public transport if a scheme like odd-even is in place; keep your cars and other vehicles clean to keep pollution under check; use dust control mechanism to avoid SPM (suspended particulate matter) levels going up when you are involved in some construction work; and so on.
- Avoid using products with high VOCs level– We use so many household products containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that these chemicals are always present in abundance in indoor air. We must check whether so many common products used by us like nail polish, oil cleaners, paints, air fresheners etc contain VOCs and avoid using them to prevent smog.
- Prefer local products– If you prefer purchasing locally made products, it helps cut down on the amount of emissions produced for transporting goods from faraway places. Another advantage of buying local products is that you are not buying things made in a country with poor smog control laws, thus global smog levels could also be reduced.
The whole exercise of discussing the different aspects related to smog formation in our series on smog was to create an awareness among our readers that we can no longer wait for others to act to prevent this deadly phenomenon. United Kingdom acted swiftly in 1956 to enact and effectively enforce the ‘clean air act’ that has by and large succeeded in preventing the December 1952 like situation when thousands were killed in London due to the dense fog that covered the city. It has to be a collective effort including governmental and non-governmental agencies and we, the people; and the sooner the better.
About the author
Sandeep Singh is an architect from IIT Roorkee. He is a prolific writer and a sensitive poet. His professional posts mostly cover the future in Architecture. His books are chiefly devoted to the inner and outer battles that a disabled person in India faces every day.