Coming up: On-the-go air purifiers for school buses in your city
We all know the damaging effects of toxic air pollution on the human body. But did you know that the exposure to toxic air is causing an irreversible damage to the brains of India’s future generations, affecting IQ and even school grades?
Studies have shown “direct links between air pollution exposure and cognitive outcomes, including reduced verbal and nonverbal IQ, memory, test scores and grade point averages among school children as well as other neurological behavioral problems”, according to a UNICEF report.
Pollutants inhaled during pregnancy can cross the placenta and affect the developing brain of a foetus, with potential lifelong effects. “Research shows an association between prenatal exposure to high levels of air pollution and developmental delay at age three, as well as psychological and behavioral problems later in childhood, including symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression,” the report further says.
Novel innovation to clean the air
As innovators from all walks of life try to combat air pollution, an initiative by Volvo Cars India deserves a mention. The company has introduced a technology called -2.5, which, interestingly, is all about converting a traditional vehicle exhaust pipe into an air purifier. And, the technology is being introduced in school buses in Delhi-NCR.
Using wave and electrical energy, -2.5 induces magnet-like properties into pollution particles being emitted from the vehicle whose tailpipe the gadget is fitted onto, so that they attract other pollution particles flying in the air around. The idea is to adhere smaller PM 2.5 particles into bigger, heavier ones which fall off from the air like sand or soil. PM 2.5, because of its tiny size, can easily enter our bloodstream and lungs, thereby causing harm.
The exhaust pollution can be used to eat up 10 times more pollution from the surrounding atmosphere. One vehicle can be used to negate the effect of pollution emitted from 10 automobiles or several factory chimneys or waste burning.
Watch this video to know more.
Talking about the technology, Charles Frump, Managing Director, Volvo Cars India, said: “As part of Volvo’s #BreatheFree campaign, we are partnering with ASSOCHAM to reach out to schools to create 50 clean zone school buses. With our partner Persepian, we are connecting these buses with devices that reduce the PM 2.5 levels all around the bus. So, as these buses travel around the city, they will actually clean the environment.”
50 school buses to be readied in January
Ten buses were fitted with the purifiers in December last year and the company is looking at readying 50 buses by the end of January. Children who are exposed to pollution from automobiles have reported a lasting damage on the brain’s white matter, which is critical in helping neurons communicate across different parts of the brain to grow and learn. This damage, according to the UNICEF report, is the result of another byproduct of pollution called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), specifically found in areas with high automobile traffic.
“We understood that we are talking about solving an environmental crisis, which is not any individual’s responsibility. So, we have been looking for partners who are really conscious about the environment and, fortunately, we found Volvo. With them, we figured out a way to have the maximum impact from technology and that was through children,” said Debayan Saha, Co-founder, Persepian Innovations.
Through its #BreatheFree campaign, Volvo India is actively promoting and providing innovations to bring down air pollution in the country. Last year, Volvo created clean zones for traffic policemen at some of the most polluted traffic intersections in Delhi-NCR and circulated clean-air masks costing just ₹60.
Let’s hope that in 2020, we’ll be seeing many more stakeholders coming forward to tackle this major environmental issue.