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Smog towers not lasting solution to air pollution, say health experts

Smog towers function as massive air cleaners that may offer short-term respite from air pollution in a local area, but without any long-term scientific support, Dr Harshal Salve, Additional Professor, AIIMS, explained.

August 28, 2022 / 03:36 PM IST
Inaugurated by Delhi CM  Arvind Kejriwal on August 23  and functional since September 22, the Smog Tower in Connaught Place is touted as India’s first large-scale urban air cleaning facility.

Inaugurated by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on August 23 and functional since September 22, the Smog Tower in Connaught Place is touted as India’s first large-scale urban air cleaning facility.


As winter approaches, several states and UTs like Delhi have been pushing for the use of smog towers as a solution to control air pollution. However, medical practitioners have advised against the move, saying that smog towers do not help the cause at all.

Speaking at the India Clean Air Summit 2022, a panel of doctors raised an alarm on increasing health ailments due to rising air pollution and suggested the governments invest in other solutions such as better air quality monitoring and prompt public health advisories for poor air days, instead of smog towers or smog guns.

Noida Twin Tower Demolition Live Updates

This suggestion gains added importance against the backdrop of the Noida Supertech Twin Tower demolition where authorities are using smog guns among other things to curb the resulting pollution.

Speaking at the summit organised by the Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), Dr Harshal Salve, Additional Professor, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said smog towers have significant limitations – the primary one being that they are expensive and fail to have any real impact on air pollution exposure to the citizens.

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Dr Salve said: “I don’t think smog towers will be useful in addressing the air pollution problem at its core. What we really need to address is the source of emission rather than trying to capture emissions in the air. This is applicable to smog towers or even air purifiers. We really have to see its cost-effectiveness in terms of how much we are investing and how much we are gaining out of it. This intervention is ranked at the lower level against others.”

Smog towers function as massive air cleaners that may offer short-term respite from air pollution in a local area, but without any long-term scientific support, Dr Salve explained.

“As compared, issuing health advisories is of prime importance as communicating to citizens through health and scientific applications. If we invest in such interventions, it will give us better outcomes to the investment. Communication is key. If demands are public driven then there are automatically more outcomes,” he said.

Dr Pratima Singh, Head of Centre for Air Pollution Studies (CAPS) at CSTEP pointed out that there is already awareness about air quality among residents of urban areas. She added that urban local bodies should also issue warnings and cited the example of Bihar, where plans were recently announced “to provide people with air quality warnings three days in advance- a model that all other states and many cities in India should replicate. These warnings when properly communicated using multiple broadcast mediums will ensure citizens can take appropriate steps to protect themselves. Such solutions are much needed than putting up smog towers whose effectiveness has yet not been established”.
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