During the past couple of weeks, India’s capital, New Delhi, has been quite chaotic. Roads and schools were closed and evacuated, safety measures were issued, and governmental intervention took place. Why you might ask? The answer is simply due to the smog crisis and pollution levels New Delhi is suffering from.
With India as the latest victim of the pollution disasters, how far are we in Lebanon from such a similar crisis, given the cocktail of pollutants just lying around in our lovely country? How far are we really with the garbage found on our doorsteps?
Smog (mixture of smoke and fog) is a type of air pollution, ordinarily caused by a mixture of smoke and sulfur dioxide. With the increase of industry and power plants in India, smog levels sky-rocketed and emissions became worse than ever, causing its current health crisis that began in early November.
New Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) (a scale used to measure air pollution), reached 999 recently; 499 figures above the level of “hazardous” according to the measurements taken by the US Embassy in New Delhi.
Shops specializing in anti-pollution masks were making big money as people started getting ready to protect themselves from the toxic smog. “Every breath is an effort,” and the use of the hashtag “#DelhiChokes” showcased the horrible situation local Indians are facing today.
Now the problem that faces us as Lebanese citizens directly is the incoming threat of air pollution. Lebanon’s particle pollution, also called particulate matter or PM index, shows that the annual average concentrations of PM10 (Coarse dust particles which are 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter) and PM2.5 (Fine particles which are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller) exceeded WHOs (World Health Organization) annual average limits by 150 % and 200 %, respectively in 2012 according to the BAPHE (Beirut Air Pollution and Health Effects) Organization.
With the recent hazardous health scene caused by the excess of garbage, one can only assume that these numbers have only increased since.
What happened in New Delhi should be a wake-up call for everyone. Lebanon is not that far off from drowning in a smog storm if we keep leading lives full of toxicity. We should all be aware of what’s coming if we don’t actually work for a change.
It’s no secret that we are not the cleanest of countries, but take a moment and think: Would you rather put some effort into sorting out your garbage and start caring about the environment around you, or choke from a smoke storm you know we’re all heading into if nothing changes?