Why pollution rises in winters? Can we be protected?

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Why are winters more polluting than summers

A phenomenon called Winter inversion is the reason as to why winters are seen to be more polluting than summers.

In winters the air near the earth’s surface which is the lowest part of the atmosphere is cold and dense. As hot air rises up, the outermost layer of the atmosphere is warm and thus the colder layer is trapped under the warmer layer forming a lid in the atmosphere. In other words, the warm layer prevents the cold air from passing through by acting as a barrier and the colder air remains stuck near the earth’s surface. This causes the pollutants which are stuck on air particles to remain near the earth’s surface and lead to never ending pollution in winters.

On the other hand, in summers the warm air which contains pollutant particles rises up and mixes with cold air which is relatively cleaner in the upper layer of the atmosphere which is why we see less pollution around us in summers.

This is why we experience less pollution on sunny days in winters and see a heavier layer of smog settling in when the sun does not come out. The same phenomenon takes place during the day and night.

Why does North-India experience more pollution that the South?

The Northern parts of India are protected by the Himalayan range in the north which do not allow air to escape the land-locked Indo-Gangetic plains causing the polluted air to settle down. However cities like Mumbai which are closer to the coast the moisture in the air and the sea breeze help disperse the polluted air. Thus, the northern part of India experiences more pollution than that in the south.

How does air pollution affect us?

Air pollution causes a number of health-related issues like scratchy throat, irritating eyes, upper respiratory infections, nausea, allergies, heart diseases and many others. It also damages one’s immune systems as well as reproductive symptoms.

It leads to global warming which has already caused the earth to become much warmer which in turn have caused common occurrence of heat waves and melting of glaciers and other ice caps. Floods, droughts, hurricanes and other such natural disasters have also become common. It also leads to species of flora and fauna to become extinct as they are unable to survive in such harsh conditions.

What one should do

  • Wear a mask when going outdoors
  • Use air purifiers indoors
  • Avoid outdoor activities
  • Avoid bringing in dirty shoes in the house as they can cause dust to enter and settle in. Make space for a shoe rack at the entrance of your home
  • Welcome plants in homes especially those that help purify the air like Aloe Vera

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