Breathing – it’s that one activity that all of us do all our lives right from birth to death. We breathe about 10,000 litres of air everyday and what do we breathe? It’s supposed to be oxygen but along with it are a whole lot of pollutants that are adding into the atmosphere every day -- thanks to you and me. As it stands, vehicular smokes, very fine particles from construction all around us - and the list includes industries and a whole lot more.
I’m not going to get into that, but rather try and find solutions to one of the biggest problems that should be plaguing us---the problem of pollution whether its outdoor pollution, indoor pollution. So what’s happening in rural Bangladesh, urban Bangladesh?
Across the board, how many lungs are starting to pay a heavy price for the amount of pollution that we have? What can be do about it? What are the practical solutions that are in front of all of us? That’s essentially the question that I’m going to try and answer.
Given that NASA was and is still doing some work to put people on the space stations and grow their own oxygen, I started thinking what the solution could be. The question that naturally comes next is: why is there a Tulsi planted in most village homes?
It is important to note that there are three simple plants which does the work during the day and at night. These three plants are Areca Palm, Bunny Plant and mother-in-law’s tongue. The mother-in-law’s plant is the night plant. It converts CO2 into oxygen at night. The Areca Palm converts CO2 at night during the day. And the Bunny Plant removes volatile chemicals like Formaldyhyde, Benzene and Trichloroethylene.
For example, if one has planted about 130 plants in about 1500sq. feet. Or, if he has eight of these plants in his bedroom and his children’s room(s) and he can track carbon-dioxide levels in a decreasing manner and the particulate matters level every day, he and his children will breathe clean air every single night for sure. However, the challenge with plants is that they take care of toxic gases but don’t necessarily address the PM 2.5 issue.
We really need very transformative changes today. We need to cut down on traffic; we need to take action on all pollution sources. And cities need to have cleaner action plans to meet the cleaner standard to reduce outdoor pollution. We need to understand ‘outdoor’ and ‘indoor’ can’t be ‘conveniently’ separated in silos.
We must decide on how we define problems and we all agree that this is an important problem. The context would be who the key stakeholders are in the whole process. Engaging key stakeholders in the process is critical and important. It should be seen as a multi-prone approach to tackle the problem of air pollution.
I feel that it is a cocktail of solutions that can help reduce air pollution. There are many entrepreneurial opportunities in finding solutions across the spectrum. The key point is to spread awareness among the masses. One initiative for indoor pollution is--- we must create more awareness for ventilation, more plantations in houses and more education and awareness.
Finally, in every solution of the problem, citizens’ actions also have an important role. It is hard to think of a worthier goal than cleaning up the air that we, and our future generations, will breathe. Act fast. Let’s start ----‘Fresh air, my birth right campaign’.
Md Sharif Hasan is a commentator on international politics, and is currently working as a field researcher on behalf of the Centre for Genocide Studies (CGS), University of Dhaka