Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dusty in Doha

It has been horribly dusty across Qatar recently. For several days it was almost impossible to make out the towers of West Bay and the dust got everywhere. It coated the furniture, found its way into cupboards and turned tiled floors into hazardous skating rinks. Unfortunately, dust is one of the hazards of living in a desert. If we are to enjoy the mild winters, and the sparse rainfall, then we have to accept the loose particles as a way of life. Of course in Doha, there is also a lot of construction and a large number of vehicles and this all adds to the amount of debris in the air.

Check out Doha Dust

To give you some kind of idea as to how small these particles are, a tiny grain of sand is usually over 60 microns in diameter, far too big even to be classed as the larger PM10 particle. This explains why sand is considered to be such a heavy particle. Even a strong wind will have difficulty lifting sand over about knee height. Other particles from a desert which aren’t sand, however, such as silt and clay, can be any size, and these pose more of a threat to our health.

Aside from desert debris, the different sized particles are usually created from different things. PM10 particles are made up of smoke and dirt from factories and farming, as well as from tiny pieces of rocks and plant spores. They are generally created by grinding rocks or turning soil, and the particles are then blown by wind.
Check out AQICN

PM2.5 particles, on the other hand, are often comprised of toxic organic compounds and heavy metals. These finer particles are generated by the exhaust of vehicles, the burning of plants or by metal processing plants. The PM2.5 particles clearly sound more toxic than the larger particles, but this isn’t the only reason that they are more dangerous.
Unfortunately as well as being more hazardous, these finer particles can also spend longer suspended in the atmosphere. The larger ones will tend to settle out of the air after just a few hours, but the PM2.5 particles can travel for hundreds of kilometres and can stay in the air for days or even weeks.
Fine dust from the Sahara desert is regularly blown across the Atlantic as far as Central and South America. It can take over a week for the journey, which is undertaken by millions of tonnes of dust which is transported to the Amazon rainforest every year. This sounds like a curse for the environment, but in fact these particles include nutrient-rich sediment essential to the ecosystem.
In 2014, the World Health Organisation released a database of air pollution recorded in cities across the world. 1,600 cities were listed, spread across 91 countries. According to this list, Doha had the 12th highest average levels of PM2.5 particles, even beating Beijing, which is often making headlines for its poor air quality.
The small particles generated in Doha are generally made from construction dust and vehicle exhaust. However, some of our fine dust is also swept in from the north. A strong wind will often pick up small particles from the dried up river beds of the Euphrates and Tigress rivers and sweep them down the Gulf towards Qatar.
In order to eliminate the dust from the atmosphere, Doha could enforce more restrictions on construction and vehicles. However, it would also have to reduce the number of particles which are blown into Doha from elsewhere. Given that we are surrounded by countries with desert environments, this would be virtually impossible. There is no escaping the fact that deserts are dry places, and in dry places there is dust.

Read the full article @ Gulf Times

Unique - A Horse Carriage with Air Conditioner in Kolkata

In a city where tram employees turned a ramshackle Raj-era relic into a cool ride, here's another doit-yourself innovation that's uber-cool — an air conditioned horse carriage.

The DIY guy is Sujit Sil, who owns six horse carriages and let his imagination gallop wild one particularly sultry and sweaty day . "I am always game for doing something unique. I wanted to ramp up the decor of my coaches with intricate wooden work, like the ones you see in Varanasi and Lucknow. During my research I came across coaches in England and Switzerland," he told TOI. The Queen has one. Why shouldn't the former Raj capital have one, too? 

Sil scoured the city and found a craftsman to transform his coach, a Victorian-legacy , into a "royal landau carrier", fitted with a 0.75-tonne air conditioner. Turning an open carriage into an insulated, see-through coach wasn't easy, of course. Sil charges Rs 10,000-15,000 a night depending on the distance. He has to factor in the cost of a diesel generator and maintenance of the landau and AC.

Read the full article @ the Times of India

Friday, June 24, 2016

Air Quality in Delhi (daily updates)

This is modeled air quality for the 14 districts in the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi in forecast mode. More NCR district reports @ Delhi Air Quality.Info

  • TRA.PASS = pollution from passenger vehicles (2Ws, 3Ws, 4Ws, Taxis, and Buses) including vehicle exhaust and associated resuspended dust 
  • TRA.FRGT= pollution from freight vehicles (heavy and light trucks, and non-road vehicles) including vehicle exhaust and associated resuspended dust 
  • RESI = pollution from domestic cooking, space heating, water heating, and lighting 
  • IND.BK = pollution from industrial activities and brick kilns 
  • PP.GS = pollution from power plants and in-situ diesel generator sets 
  • BDY.INTRU = pollution linked to boundary conditions, in other words, pollution from outside the 80 km x 80 km modeling domain; which is calculated from a simulation over the Indian subcontinent, including the anthropogenic emissions, seasonal fires and dust events (calculated based on the most recent satellite data), and other natural sources 
  • OTHERS = pollution from open waste burning and construction dust

US-Volkswagen Agreed to Pay Up to US$7000 to 482,000 Diesel Car Owners

Volkswagen has agreed to pay US vehicle owners an average of about $5,000 apiece to settle claims from its diesel emissions cheating scandal, two people briefed on the matter said on Thursday. The total price tag for the repayments and other fines is said to exceed $10.2bn. Most of the money would go to compensate 482,000 owners of cars with 2-liter diesel engines that were programmed to turn on emissions controls during lab tests and turn them off while on the road, said the people, who asked not to be identified because a judge has issued a gag order in the case.

The company will still have to settle foreign suits over allegations that it lied about its emissions standards, in addition to claims brought by other US agencies. The US justice department is conducting a separate criminal inquiry of the automaker, which could also result in a hefty fine.

Read the full article @ the Guardian