Air is one of the most important elements to all living things. However, in this 21st century, air pollution has become a growing threat to all life on Earth. Air pollution can be described as the contamination of the atmosphere by various pollutants that are harmful to all life, reduce visibility and produce odors that are undesirable. Some of the pollutants are released by natural sources, for example: the smoke emitted or eruption of volcanoes, hot springs and many more. However, the effect of pollution cause by natural sources are very small compared to the pollutant that our factories and vehicles emits (Kumar, n.d.). Therefore, we human beings are the main cause to air pollution. There are a lot of reasons for us to worry about air pollution as it not only affects our health, it also can contaminate Earth to a point that it is no longer suitable for life to live in the future if we do not stop the increasing of air pollution. So, what are the main causes of air pollution and their effects and most importantly are there ways for us to reduce air pollution?
There are so many factors that contribute to the polluted air here in Malaysia. However, the main reason of air pollution here is because of haze. For the past years, Indonesia was mostly to be blamed and this was due to the burning of rainforest in Sumatera in order to open up land for palm oil plantation, agricultural or commercial purposes. The smoke from this burning has drifts over to Malaysia and the most affected with the thick haze were Sabah and Sarawak. This method was said to be a cheaper alternative to open up land. For example in 2015, this was the year where haze in Malaysia got worst than ever that has forced the government to declare schools to be closed for few days. In this year, widespread illnesses has also increased vastly especially to the elders and children. (Malaysia Traveller , n.d.)
However, the air pollution may not solely to be blamed to the forest burning in Indonesia because local industrial in Malaysia has also contributed to the air pollution. Economic growth have led to an increasing manufacturing sector and processing industries continue to grow over the years in Malaysia which leads to a more factory opening. The smoke released by factories and industries were not efficiently filtered that has caused the smoke to be hazardous therefore this would harm the health of the people. Because of this, the people who live nearby would be badly affected. (Danial, 2016)
Other than that, a large number of vehicles, poor road conditions and inefficiency of public transport have also been a huge contribution to air pollution in this country. Most Malaysians nowadays prefer to use private transport as it is more convenient for them to get to work, college or anywhere else. This is the reason why the number of vehicles has increased vastly for the past few years. Especially in Klang Valley, the air is badly polluted because of the major traffic jams has increased the air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds and ozone. (Ahmad Makmom Abdullah, 2012)
Vaping and smoking are also contributing factors to air pollution. As of 2015, it was recorded that atleast 1 in 10 Malaysians are 13 to 17 years olds smokers and atleast 1 in 2 Malaysians are adult smokers. (Wee Lei Hum, 2016) This huge increasing number of smokers in this country has obviously degrades our air quality. The particles contain in tobacco smoke will settle in the dust or surfaces for atleast few months and will form to cancer-causing compounds. Same goes to vaping, although the smell of the smoke may be pleasing, but it produces aerosol clouds containing chemicals. (Rj, 2018)
Undeniably one of the prominent problems our civilized society faces today lies a global epidemic of air pollution which has negatively affected our global village. According to the World Health Organisation (W.H.O).air pollution is one of the greatest contributing factors to a number of international diseases. Statistics derived from (W.H.O) illustrate and prove that air pollution in low-income families is at 94 percent. Diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, and recently diabetes has been added to the list are imperative and are most likely to affect health on a large scale. According to (Rollin, 2017) 40% of the world solely rely on wood, crop residue, charcoal and animal dung for their daily activities. Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbons are emitted into the air when all the resources mentioned above are burnt. A study conducted by the ((W.H.O), 2014) supports the phenomenon that air pollutes is indeed harmful. To illustrate this 7 million premature deaths were caused by air pollution in the year 2014.
It is evident that air pollution negatively impacts the eco and social-cultural environment and is indeed attributed to a number of health-related problems. Hence both indoor and outdoor quality of air need to be enhanced to ensure that there is a decline in these diseases. Studies suggest that low-income families are more prone to use biomass fuels which reuse smoke into the air, which affects the overall air quality. Vulnerable groups thus are prone to living in badly aerated areas due to the low standard of living and are thus exposed to harmful chemicals and fuels in the air.
To add on to this pregnant woman and young children are the main victims due to the fumes being passed to the next generation. A clear illustration of this is during world war 2 in 1945 a bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Negasi (Japan ). Studies show that after the bomb was dropped show that there was a generation of women and children who were born with disabilities due to the infected and poor quality of air. hence air pollution grossly affects and is impressionable to women and children and can affect the health of an unborn child.
Furthermore, exposure to bad quality of air in the early stages of life can affect an unborn foetus in the early postnatal life which can cause problems to the organ functions of the child which in turn may cause mutilation and a slow maturation rate in the brain, lungs together with the immune system at large.
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In the year 2012 our country faced 6251 deaths due to air pollution as per the World Health Organization’s report (THE WHO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH, 2016). Mainly the deaths were caused by coronary illness (3,630), stroke (1773), low respiratory infection (29), lung tumor (670) and pulmonary ailment (148) (http://www.wpro.who.int, 2014). The figure in the year 2013, increased about 878 people compared to last year but the study made by the World Health Organization exclude indoor air pollution which might have affect numerous people in Malaysia (KHOR, 2016). If these facts were included the overall amount of death caused due to air pollution would probably be higher than those caused by road accidents.
Seasonably the haze has been absent to a great extent so far this year because usually due to burning in jungle and agriculture in Indonesia our country has experienced the impacts of the haze annually and the year 2015 memories are unforgettable (BALCH, 2015). 4.3 million died rashly from indoor pollution and about 3.7 million people from outdoor pollution from the study made by World Health Organization and 92% of individuals on the planet does not meet the World Health Organization wellbeing standard for open air quality. More than 3000 rural and urban areas a worldwide evaluation for great exposure and encumbrance of disease is done based on satellite information and ground station monitors according the WHO report in Ambient air pollution (http://www.euro.who.int, n.d.). Our nation has a figure of PM2.5 yearly meridian middle centralization of 15 (running from 9 to 24) micrograms per cubic meter which is half over the WHO’s standard limit of 10.
By contrast, other Asian nations had the accompanying air pollution levels in countries like China (54), India (62), Thailand (25), Singapore (17) and Indonesia. From the year 2008 to 2013 there has been a rapid development which is about 8% of rise of the contrary impact of this new hidden killer. According to World Health Organization, the dangerous pollutants were one of the best reasons and responsible for 11.6% of deaths globally of the aggregate in the year 2012 (AYRY). Two out of three deaths happened in our neighborhood such as Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific districts and 90% of deaths in developing countries. Mainly toxins from the ignition of petroleum products radiated by vehicles is one of the primary driver for air pollution in Malaysia. In 2011, our road has witnessed in excess of 21 million enlisted vehicles and that number is probably going to be higher now and every one of those vehicles are creating dangerous gases that affects our wellbeing (KHOR, https://www.thestar.com.my, 2016).
The issue should likewise be given the worldwide consideration it deserves. Decreasing air pollution is one of the objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Secretary-General, 2017). Furthermore, in May 2016, the World Health Assembly out of the blue embraced a four-point guide to handle air pollution (GENEVA, 2015). In the previous month pollution in our capital has been more awful than Beijing’s (DENYER, 2018). With no woods fires consuming in South East Asia the time has come to acknowledge that the city’s pollution has no outer source and it originates from movement (VIDAL, 2014).
The conventional estimation was PM10 particles littler than 10 micrometers (National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP), n.d.). These irritations of the eyes and nose and can lead to influenza-like manifestations. It is additionally harming the economy and influences liveability and venture. Five years back, KL positioned 25th for the most liveable city for Asian expats, this year the city is 126th (https://cleanmalaysia.com, 2018). “Regional chief of Asia at ECA International clarifies that while different areas have enhanced their air quality, there stays “abnormal amounts of pollution in Kuala Lumpur (LEEQUANE, 2018). At the point when individuals quit considering KL to be an alluring city to live it is harder to draw in worldwide business and outside venture. In our country there are far less power plants in the area (Fadzil, 2018). The city is likewise encompassed by thick woods which assume a critical part in keeping the city tenable. The new government has chosen not to boost open transport with the guaranteed month to month pass. Further, the evacuation of GST is set to expand auto deals as costs for vehicles diminish as much as RM88000.
Cases of Air Pollution in Malaysia
1997 Southeast Asian Haze
The haze appeared around July and continued till November which involved the South East countries of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand. The haze was caused by the burning of vegetation from the neighbouring country, Indonesia, to clear the land use for agricultural purposes. Satellites showed that the haze covered an area of approximately 3,000,000 km2 of land in Sumatera and Kalimantan area of South East Asia. (Goldammer, 2000)
2005 Malaysian Haze
The 2005 Malaysian Haze appeared in August 2005 and caused a state of emergency for the country as the Air Pollution Index (API) has reached over 500 which is a hazardous level of air pollution. The air quality was incredibly poor to the point where health officials advised citizens to stay at home. Some of the schools in Malaysia were closed down as it could endangered the health of the children as the number of patients admitted to hospitals rose. A state of emergency was announced in Port Klang and Kuala Selangor and was then lifted on 13 of August after officials have announced that the API levels drop down. (BBC News, 2005)
2015 Southeast Asian haze
The 2015 Haze has caused an international crisis and multiple states of emergency which involved the countries of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam. It appeared in late June and depleted around end of October 2015. The haze hit a record high of 1801 for Pollutants Standards Index (PSI) in Indonesia. The haze itself has affected approximately 4 million students in Malaysia and disrupted events such as the 2015 FINA Swimming World Cup in Singapore and the Kuala Lumpur Marathon in Malaysia. Nearly all the states in Malaysia, except for Sabah and Kelantan, were told to close down schools temporarily. (Heng, 2015)
Malaysian Law on Air Pollution
The current laws in Malaysia governing air pollution is the Environment Quality Act 1974 and its Regulations 1989. Section 22 of the act states the restrictions on the pollution of the atmosphere. A licence is required in order to emit pollutants exceeding the prescribed limits in accordance with the procedures specified in the Environmental Quality (Licensing) Regulations 1977. The other laws implemented are the Environmental Quality Order 1989, the National Forestry Act 1984, and the International Environmental Laws to further enforce laws on air pollution in Malaysia. The punishment for not complying with the Environmental Quality Act 1974 and its Regulations 1989 is a fine not exceeding RM 10,000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both. A further fine not exceeding one thousand ringgit a day is imposed for every day that the offence is continued after a notice is given by the Director.