Delhi is yet again witnessing the airpocalypse. The alarming levels of air pollution in Delhi have led to health experts calling the city as inhabitable. Illegal crop burning in neighbouring farm states, vehicle exhaust in a city with limited public transport and construction dust have led to this crisis. Studies suggest that National Capital Region residents are losing out on almost six years of life because of the dangerous air pollution levels. For the past few days, a thick blanket of grew air and pollutants has enveloped Delhi, thus making the city’s air as unbreathable.
The concentration of air pollutants is so high that breathing in air has been compared with being worse than smoking 50 cigarettes a day. The PM 2.5 (the particles most damaging to health) levels have far exceeded the 500 mark in almost all parts of the city. The particles can be inhaled deep into the lungs, causing heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and respiratory diseases.
The Global Burden of Disease 2015 report estimated that PM 2.5 contributes to 4.2 million deaths globally, a majority of which occur in India and China. And it’s not getting any better: the WHO says air pollution was eight per cent worse in 2013 than it was in 2008.
While the government is still grappling with ways to tackle this problem of toxic air, Berlin-based company, Green City Solutions, has come up with a way to deal with air pollution in real time. They have developed a mobile wall of moss that can clean as much polluted air as a small forest!
It is called CityTree and uses plants like mosses and lichens, that are good at filtering air. Since these plants have very large leaf surface compared to other plants, the leaves can absorb more pollution without it clogging up the surface. The moss is attached to the air vents and the cleansing process gets started.
In an area of 3.5 square metres (37.6 square feet), the CityTree mimics the action of 275 trees of filtering the air of fine dust, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide (up to 240 metric tons per year). What’s more interesting is that it is self-watering, self-monitoring and solar-powered piece of green technology. Sensors can be added so that data can be collected on the CityTree’s performance.
Given that a lot of urban land will be turned into housing rather than parks, the use of CityTree makes sense as it also occupies less space.