Construction: Building Up or Polluting Down?

Air pollution is alarming, but do you know that 30% of air pollution is caused by harmful particles released from construction sites? Yes, it’s true. The pollution caused by construction activities is surely invisible, but its effects on human health are pretty evident. 

Are you wondering how this happens? Read this story of an architect who frequently got sick due to prolonged exposure to construction pollution: air pollution caused by construction activities. 

Ashish, a famous architect with an experience of 20 years, was known for his passion for constructing homes and buildings. He lived with his family in Dehradun and traveled back and forth for work in different cities. 

Due to working in this industry for a long time, Ashish spent most of his hours on a construction site. Due to his exposure to construction dust and other harmful substances, he used to fall ill, frequently experiencing symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and breathlessness.

Ashish couldn’t leave his job, so he took precautions and medicine when things worsened. Even his doctor asked him to retire as Ashish recently turned 40.

However, Ashish was passionate about his work and often said, “I am still young; there is so much work to do.” His family, friends, and doctor tried their best, but Ashish was determined not to leave this work. 

A month ago, Ashish traveled to Delhi for a construction project. It was a big project, and Ashish was excited to join it. His family was concerned as he would be staying away from his home when he was at risk of getting sick again. However, Ashish assured his family that he would care for his health and keep them updated.

As the construction progressed, Ashish started noticing alarming signs of pollution. Due to dust, noise, and toxic emissions from heavy machinery, he felt that the air quality around him was very poor. Days and weeks went by, but Ashish’s condition worsened. 

Seeing his condition, he had a word with his father, who was a doctor.

“Papa, I am worried about my health. It is a large-scale project, and it needs my presence. However, I think I don't feel right whenever I am out at work.” Ashish told his father.

“Ashish, I have told you this before, and I am telling you again that construction is one of the major reasons behind air pollution in India. Construction activities release dust, particulate matter (PM), and harmful gasses from machines that are all harmful to human beings when they breathe.” his father replied.

He added, “You have spent your entire life in this work, which is why it is clear that you have been facing lung and respiratory issues for the last ten years.”

Ashish’s father was right. Construction activities affect air quality directly and indirectly. Directly, all the dust from construction gets amalgamated as PM, whereas harmful gases like CO2 and SO2 released from heavy machinery degrade the air quality that we breathe in. On the other hand, construction activities indirectly affect air quality by demanding heavy energy use. 

It was high time Ashish realized he had to leave this job to care for his health. However, he didn’t stop working. He became an advocate and thought he could at least try not to let construction activities affect air quality.

Ashish believes that if taken care of, the following things can reduce air pollution caused by construction. These are:

1. Construction companies need to avoid activities that are cheap. Such activities can be good margin-wise but bad for the environment.

2. Companies need to monitor the air quality around sites not to let PM exceed the prescribed limit.

3. They should replace old heavy machines with newer technology machines with emission control systems.

4. They should reduce waste generated from construction activities by using efficient and advanced tools.

5. We need to save energy by using eco-friendly tools and machines.

If all the construction companies follow these steps, we can mitigate air pollution in India. Moreover, the focus of construction activities should be urbanization only with environment-friendly techniques. 

If you stay near a construction site, you can get affected by the poor air quality. Try to protect yourself by respective measures and stay safe.

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