Take a deep breath in. Chances are the air you're breathing is free from toxic contaminants, harmful particles, and industrial waste. Unfortunately, though, the luxury of clean air is one that many Indians living in both urban and rural centers do not have access to.
Industrial air pollution is accelerating the global climate change phenomenon, impacting wildlife, forests, and water sources. Air contaminants are responsible for biomagnification, the accumulation of toxic chemicals in the tissues of organisms at successively higher levels in a food chain, often resulting in the disruption of one or more ecosystems. Acid rain, haze, and eutrophication are additional byproducts of high levels of harmful particles in the air that continue to add to the environmental crisis fueled by air pollution.
Ambient air pollution has been strongly associated with declined pulmonary and respiratory function, lung inflammation, COPD, stroke, and even mortality, with children and elderly people often being the worst affected. Many Indian citizens have frequent, everyday exposures to dangerous levels of toxic particulate matter, resulting in serious health conditions which impact every aspect of their lives. Around the globe, air pollution is lowering the quality of life for millions, and the number of individuals affected is on the rise daily.
In a country where the agricultural sector makes up a huge bulk of the economic sustenance of its citizens, the effects of air pollution are especially crippling. The agricultural industry's disruption was highlighted by a 2014 study which reported that ground level ozone had cut crop yields in India by almost half as compared to 1980. Not only can crop failure throw farmers whose survival depends on their crops in a precarious financial position, but it can also have serious ramifications for the health of the Indian economy.