Tech BaTTles The air PolluTion MonsTer
ABLARING ALARM goes off and the transparent dome slowly lowers itself. The entire city is in lockdown mode. Giant turbine fans on top of each building kick in, sucking massive amounts of air and passing them through monster filters. Large truckmounted air purifier machines start to move into the most polluted areas. W ithin minutes the air in the city is pure just like mountain air.
In the TV series Under the Dome, a mysterious dome cuts off a city from the rest of the world. A transparent dome acting as an air pollution barrier for an entire city is exciting. Any air pollutant from outside wouldn’t make it in, while largescale air filtration technology would purify the air within. Unfortunately, the reality is that no dome is being constructed to protect us – now or in the future.
Air pollution now is the world’s largest single environmental health risk and reports state that annually about 14 million people prematurely die as a result. These staggering numbers confirm that taking drastic measures against this monster is now beyond critical.
What works and what doesn’t in this battle against pollution
SCHOOLS AND AIR PURIFIERS
Air purifiers are effective in a closed room environment but that adds a lot of carbon dioxide to your room. The amount of carbon-dioxide emitted by 30 to 40 children in a closed classroom could be even worse than the pollution. Only a centralised air pollution control blower system would work
’s something schools need to plan and budget for. An in-car air purifier is as important as one in your room. Switch on your AC in the car, shut off the compressor, strap a HEPA filter on the blower vent, set the air for recirculation and you’ve just made your car air pristine clean.
AIR QUALITY MONITOR
Buy a portable one that works plugged in and on battery. It will gauge how effective your air purifier is, how polluted your car is, the most affected areas in your house, faulty windows or doors leaking in outside air, how bad the air is outside and if you should go for a run or a walk – and about a dozen other areas where you need to know what you’re breathing.
STUBBLE BURNING THE MAIN CULPRIT?
One of the culprits, but it is not the major one. If crop burning in Punjab and other states was the main reason then every single town and city along the way should be as polluted, why just Delhi? The pollutants obviously don’t Star Trek themselves only into this city. Banning crop burning isn’t the solution; monetising what they plan to burn is. If farmers see even a little value for the stubble, they will sell it rather than burn it.
ENTIRE CITY SOLUTIONS
The usual culprits would be better traffic management, strict ‘pollution toll tax’ in congested areas, shutting down coal burning power plants or installing filtration systems at source, and strict monitoring of polluting industries around the city. Unfortunately, this needs more political will than we have right now.
EXPERIMENTAL BUT RADICAL
Could every single car and every single building become an air purifier? By rejigging and installing HEPA level filters in the air-conditioning system of ALL cars and ALL AC plants of buildings in a city, you could theoretically create a massive grid of moving air purifiers and giant filters that could clean a city’s air upto 25 percent. It’s radical but doable.
Till then, the only solution is a giant dome covering the entire city. W e would actually welcome it.
GAUGE THE DAMAGE Air mon itors can play a part by tellin g you how polluted the air is
IN YOUR CAR In -car air purifiers can help to keep the air in side your