Monday, January 19, 2015

Ministry of Environment Misguided by Bad Science on Air Pollution (EPCA)

Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has submitted its rebuttal to Supreme Court on MoEF's recent affidavit that downplayed the role of vehicles in air pollution. The ministry's original affidavit had claimed vehicles contribute only 6.6% of particulate matter (PM) pollution.

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However, faced with criticism on the issue, it filed another affidavit on Friday stating vehicles contribute between 8.7% and 20.5% of PM emissions.

Bad English or Bad Science?

Rebutting the ministry's first claim, EPCA, which also submitted its rejoinder on Friday, said MoEF's stand against upgrading fuel quality to Euro IV standards across the country by end-2015 is also "unacceptable" as there has been "inordinate delay" in taking action against air pollution. Full article @ Economic Times

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EPCA, a body notified by the Centre in 1997 to deal with all environmental issues in the NCR and ensure compliance with air quality standards, said upgrading fuel standards immediately is important because truck traffic is a major source of air pollution. Euro IV standards for trucks are 81% cleaner than the current Euro III standards. SC was hearing a petition by MC Mehta, Supreme Court lawyer and environment activist.

A Graphic Explanation of "What is Source Apportionment"

EPCA pointed out the government is depending on "bad science", referring to National Environmental Engineering Research Institute's source apportionment study that concluded vehicles are responsible for only 6.6% PM pollution in Delhi. EPCA quoted another government study by Ministry of Earth Sciences, done before the 2010 Commonwealth Games, that found vehicles contribute 29% of PM 10 (coarse particles of less than 10 micrometre size) and 45% of PM 2.5 (fine, respirable particles of less than 2.5 micrometre size). The MoES study conducted by IITM was also published in Atmospheric Environment, a journal.

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EPCA sought directions from SC on creating a clean fuel fund from the Rs 2 per litre excise duty on fuels and an additional excise duty of Rs 81,000 on diesel cars, proposed by the government-appointed Kirit Parekh committee.

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