Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Delhi to be First Indian City to Forecast Air Quality (Mint)

Two French firms are working with the Central Pollution Control Board to create air quality forecasting system in New Delhi
Padmaparna Ghosh,
The Mint, March 31st, 2010
New Delhi, India

Link to the article and an edited 2 min video
Link to details on the system architecture.

India’s capital, which will host the Commonwealth Games in October, isn’t just getting a fresh coat of paint, several overpasses, hotels and roads, and assorted sports infrastructure towards this.

It is also getting its own air quality forecasting system.

And so, New Delhi will become the first city in the country to be able to provide, 48 hours in advance, a pollution forecast, much like a weather forecast.

French firms Aria Technologies SA and Leosphere SA, which created a similar forecasting system for the Beijing Olympics (2008), are helping New Delhi create its pollution forecast. India doesn’t have an official pollution forecasting system.

“Our goal in Beijing was to put together a pollution index for the Games. Paris, which has a similar system, uses the information to control pollutants in the near future. This (the pollution forecasting system in New Delhi) is a first for South Asia,” said Sarath Guttikunda, deputy programme manager, Aria.

The two French firms are working with India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to create the system. Leosphere manufactures hardware and software for the laser-based monitoring systems and Aria Technologies develops and distributes air quality modelling systems.

The New Delhi project is sponsored by the French government. Officials at its embassy in New Delhi declined comment, saying they were not authorized to speak to the media.

“After the Games, CPCB will take it forward. We will be training the board so that they will be able to continue the forecasting,” added Guttikunda.

CPCB has the mandate for collecting and releasing data on air pollution. It does provide real-time data on the concentration of various pollutants in New Delhi. However, this is point-in-time data, not a forecast.

The new initiative will help it do better, said an official at CPCB. “The focus is on better understanding of pollution for national, regional and urban areas. This will be continued after the Games also. Delhi is just the pilot and we hope we can replicate it for other cities,” said Prashant Gargava, environmental engineer and in charge for computer division, CPCB. “Advance warning and information on ambient air quality can help citizens in planning outdoor activities. It can be used for planning air quality management systems, understanding sources of pollution and how to manage them.”

However, it wasn’t clear whether New Delhi would emulate Beijing’s aggressive environmental management.

In Beijing, where the forecasts were available five days in advance, officials “used it as a policy tool, through which they planned their short-term pollution control methods. They had a clear target, which was to meet air quality standards during games,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhary, associate director, Centre for Science and Environment, an environmental activist organization.

“They ordered three million cars off the roads and shut down industries to meet the standard,” she said, adding that New Delhi should have a similar plan.

Guttikunda, too, would like to see CPCB or other agencies use the data to good effect. “Our objective is to persuade the agencies to make an informed decision on pollution control rather than an ad hoc one.”

The forecasting system that is being put in place will use Lidar (light detection and ranging) technology. The process involves a laser beam which is released and captured, with the before-after difference being converted into concentrations of various pollutants.

The system will also factor in regional data because it is needed to make an accurate forecast, said Guttikunda. For instance, data from Rajasthan can help predict dust storms in New Delhi.
Guttikunda said the main aim of air quality forecasting should be public health. “For instance, Delhi is known as the asthma capital of the country. Air pollution, especially particulate, is linked to respiratory disorders and advisories could be based on such advance warning system for better public health.”

Several cities in other parts of the world do issue such health advisories.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Clean The Air (Hong Kong)

A promotional video from the Government of Hong Kong to raise awareness on air pollution in the city and what the public can do.

Wall Street Journal, March 23rd, 2010
Hong Kong Air Quality ‘Severe’.

Business Week, March 23rd, 2010
Hong Kong’s Air Pollution Index Declines From Peak.

New York Times, March 22nd, 2010
Hong Kong Issues Warning as Air Pollution Sets Record.

Business Week, March 22nd, 2010
Hong Kong Government Under Fire as Pollution Soars.

BBC, March 15th, 2010
Hong Kong group launches air pollution campaign.

Business Week, March 20th, 2010
Hong Kong Wins No Weekend Respite as Smog Worsens for Third Day.

Business Week, March 19th, 2010
Hong Kong Air Pollution ‘Very High’ for Second Day.

Business Week, March 18th, 2010
Hong Kong Pollution ‘Very High’ at Roadside Stations.

Air Pollution Alerts - March 28th, 2010

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on March 21, 2010)

Info World, March, 2010
The Economic Costs of Indoor Air Pollution: New Results for Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste.

IAP Updates, March, 2010
COPD and chronic bronchitis risk of indoor air pollution from solid fuel.

Asia News, March 26th, 2010
A cloud of smog hovers over Mongolia’s capital.

American Daily, March 26th, 2010
Bringing light, health and prosperity to Africa.

Khlaeej Times, March 26th, 2010
Asia pollution circles the globe in stratosphere.

Science Daily, March 26th, 2010
Pollution from Asia Circles Globe at Stratospheric Heights.

Economist, March 25th, 2010
Carbon markets - The wrong sort of recycling.

Science Daily, March 25th, 2010
Biofuel Mandates Would Make Corn Shortfall Costly.

CNN, March 24th, 2010
Don't blame cows for climate change.

AFP, March 24th, 2010
China's sandstorms blast Beijing with dust, sand.

CO2 Science, March 24th, 2010
Local Health Effects of Locally-Emitted Carbon Dioxide.

Biocycle, March 24th, 2010
Are Compost Emissions A Strong Ozone Source?

Straits Times, March 24th, 2010
Best city for Asian expats.

Scientific American, March 23rd, 2010
Can Climate Models Predict Global Warming's Direct Effects in Your City?

Business Week, March 23rd, 2010
Hong Kong’s Air Pollution Index Declines From Peak.

Climate-L, March 23rd, 2010
Global GHG Standard for Cities Launched.

Wall Street Journal, March 23rd, 2010
Hong Kong Air Quality ‘Severe’., March 23rd, 2010
Ulaanbaatar grapples with smog problem.

Indian Express, March 23rd, 2010
It’s going to be a ‘Green’ Games, with help from city scientists.

Science Daily, March 23rd, 2010
Diesel Exhaust Associated With Lethargy in Offspring.

Reuters, March 23rd, 2010
EPA seeks carbon data from oil, natgas sectors.

Christian Science Monitor, March 23rd, 2010
Mexico City makes way for bicycles.

Science Daily, March 22nd, 2010
New Research Cuts Into Origins of Iron and Steel in India.

The Age, March 22nd, 2010
Asthma linked to particles in air pollution.

New York Times, March 22nd, 2010
Hong Kong Issues Warning as Air Pollution Sets Record.

Bangkok Post, March 22nd, 2010
Expanded BRT line en route - Greenhouse gas reduction.

Times of India, March 22nd, 2010
City's BRTS is talk of Seoul meet.

DNA India, March 22nd, 2010
Gujarat declared most polluted state in India.

Guardian, March 22nd, 2010
UK air pollution causes 50,000 early deaths a year.

Business Week, March 22nd, 2010
Hong Kong Government Under Fire as Pollution Soars.

NPR, March 21st, 2010
EU Sets Out To Lead Climate Changers.

Science Daily, March 21st, 2010
New 'Smart' Roof Reads the Thermometer, Saves Energy in Hot and Cold Climates.

NPR, March 19th, 2010
Tired Of Commuting By Car? Try An Electric Bike.

NPR, March 18th, 2010
Farmers Hurt By Collapse Of Carbon Credits Market.

DNA India, March 16th, 2010
Vehicles, high-rises are poisoning the Mumbai air.

BBC, March 15th, 2010
Hong Kong group launches air pollution campaign.

IPS, February 25th, 2010
Smoke-free Stoves A Godsend for Village Women in Pakistan.

Times of India, March 25th, 2010
Euro IV emission norms from April.

Scientific American, January 21st, 2009
Clean air equals longer life.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Air Pollution Alerts - March 21st, 2010

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on March 14, 2010)

Taipei Times, March 21st, 2010
Air quality to suffer as dust storm from China arrives today.

Business Week, March 20th, 2010
Hong Kong Wins No Weekend Respite as Smog Worsens for Third Day.

Los Angeles Times, March 20th, 2010
Year's strongest sandstorm hits northern China, turns Beijing skies orange with grit.

Bangkok Post, March 20th, 2010
Thai Govt calls meeting on haze.

Business Week, March 19th, 2010
Hong Kong Air Pollution ‘Very High’ for Second Day.

Afrol News, March 19th, 2010
Africa advised against coal power.

The Post and Courier, March 19th, 2010

Reduce port emissions to improve air quality and health, save money.

Mining Weekly, March 19th, 2010
New air quality monitoring 
system introduced into South African industry.

Science Daily, March 19th, 2010
Urban CO2 Domes Increase Deaths, Poke Hole in Cap-and-Trade Proposal.

Indian Express, March 18th, 2010
Sheila wants autos off Delhi roads.

Business Week, March 18th, 2010
Hong Kong Pollution ‘Very High’ at Roadside Stations.

The Guardian, March 18th, 2010
Delhi plans ban on autorickshaws.

Science Daily, March 18th, 2010
China and India: Neighbors Need to Collaborate for Sake of Global Environment.

Science Alert, March 18th, 2010
Taking on global warming's 'black beast'.

The Daily Cardinal, March 18th, 2010
Air alerts indicate sustainability issues.

Economist, March 18th, 2010
Climate science - Spin, science and climate change.

Health, March 17th, 2010
First Global Air Pollution Estimates.

Environmental Health Perspectives, March 17th, 2010
Global Estimates of Ambient Fine Particulate Matter Concentrations from Satellite-based Aerosol Optical Depth: Development and Application.

The National, March 17th, 2010
A lesson for schoolchildren in the chemistry of bad air.

Indian Express, March 17th, 2010
Ministry bans new projects in city’s highly polluted areas.

Science Daily, March 17th, 2010
Urban Pollution Affects Cardiac Function.

Stanford University News, March 16th, 2010
Urban CO2 domes increase deaths, poke hole in 'cap-and-trade' proposal.

Times of India, March 16th, 2010
Kanpur to be one of the most polluted cities in the country.

Science Daily, March 16th, 2010
Environmental Refugees and Global Warming.

Times Online, March 16th, 2010
Delhi officials unveil giant public air freshener to scrub atmosphere clean.

The Daily Star, March 16th, 2010
Towards a Sustainable Dhaka.

Telegraph, March 16th, 2010
Delhi turns on giant air freshener.

Eurek Alert, March 15th, 2010
Urban CO2 domes increase deaths, poke hole in cap-and-trade proposal.

Trade Arabia, March 15th, 2010
Mena 'can become a leader in renewables'.

China Daily, March 15th, 2010
Long road ahead for emissions.

BBC, March 15th, 2010
Hong Kong group launches air pollution campaign.

NPR, March 12th, 2010
Living Spaces That Stress Less.

Science Daily, March 12th, 2010
Production of Chemicals from Wood Waste Made More Environmentally-Friendly and Cheaper.

Science Daily, March 11th, 2010
Atmospheric Nanoparticles Impact Health.

World Watch Institute, March 10th, 2010
India’s Low Carbon Growth Strategy.

Economist, March 4th, 2010
Monitoring greenhouse gases - Highs and lows.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Why the Autorickshaws?

The Delhi Chief Minister this week made a statement saying that the city is infested with autorickshaws and they should be banned (see guardian on March 18th, 2010).


They actually mean less harm than the others.

I do not own a car and use the three wheelers, bus, or rent a car, depending on how many meetings I have and the accessibility of transport at various locations. Yes, the autorickshaw drivers can be annoying and at times, hard to bargain with. Nevertheless, once in the routine and have an idea of the distances and prices, one learns to bargains.

Having said that, banning three wheelers is not a good idea. I am not talking from the perspective of the drivers and their incomes, but from the mobility perspective. In general, the public transport runs at ~50 percent of the required capacity, that too an old fleet, which is still waiting for the new buses. Yes, the three wheelers move slower than the passenger cars. But, they move people as much as the cars. The three-wheelers carry ~8-10 percent of the daily passengers, short and long trips, across the city (see passenger statistics). Compare this to ~15 percent by passenger cars, from over 1 million cars. Without providing an adequate alternative, like doubling of the public transport system, this is a sorry move.

Even after the metro comes operational, the role of three wheelers will garner a more prominent role in shuttling passengers between stations to the residential and commercial neighborhoods. For example, take a look at the two wheeler service in Bangkok at the sky train stations. Even, in Mumbai, the concept of the shared taxis at the subway stations. An effective service for the public, short trips, and good income.

In general, in the city of Delhi, the share passenger trips by bus is ~25 percent and the non-motorized transport is ~35 percent. If the city is worried about the mobility of the people on road, they should target to improve the larger share holders like buses, walking, and cycling, than going after the three wheelers, which are very handy in case short trips.

Photograph by Mr. Christian Krelling

Also see

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jumbo Size Vacuum Cleaners to Purify Urban Air?

See the cartoon by Marc Roberts - "Waiting to Exhale" in response to our blog piece below (3rd, April, 2010) on installation of a giant vacuum cleaner in Delhi.


Recently, at the entrance of the Palika Bazaar in Connaught place, the Delhi officials unveiled a giant air purifier. The European manufacturer, System Life, and their Indian business counterparts claim that this is the next innovative approach to clean the air and it is here for the better health of Delhites. See Hindustan Times, and UK Telegraph.

For an ordinary person, who is breathing the polluted air at any of the junctions and along the major road corridors, while stuck in the congested traffic, this sounds like a miracle solution. The machine is here to suck bad air and spew out clean air, with a freshener.

Are the officials suggesting that it is OK to pollute, because we are testing an innovative vacuum cleaner to clean the air we breathe, instead of acting on the technical and policy options, which might even be cheaper and faster to implement?

Air pollution is rising problem in Delhi and the sources are many – inside and outside the city. Growing motorization, coupled with an absence of appropriate road traffic reduction strategy on major corridors, an ageing and ill-maintained public vehicle stock, a sizeable share of two-stroke engine technologies, absence of an efficient public transport system, and inadequate separation between working, living, and moving space, have all led to traffic congestion resulting in longer travel times, extra fuel consumption, discomfort to road users, degradation of the urban environment, and high-level of air pollution in Delhi.

The particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter less than 10 micron (PM10) (and the lesser sizes like PM2.5) is considered the most harmful and routinely average above 150 micro-gm/m3 during the day, when the national standard is 100 micro-gm/m3 and the international health standard is 50 micro-gm/m3 for PM10.

In Delhi, the largest gain in the air quality was observed at the peak of the CNG conversions of buses. And since, the air quality levels have declined gradually over the years, in the residential areas and along the major corridors. The slow moving traffic during rush-hours puts the environment and lives in high danger and consequently stretches the health facilities beyond their capacities. In 2009, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) announced that Delhi is now the “Asthma Capital” of India.

The machine acts as a vacuum cleaner, with an air intake capacity of 10,000 cubic meters per hour and the manufacturer demonstrates that the machine is capable of trapping the harmful PM (for three size fractions) by approximately 70 percent of the air flow. The machine costs ~2.5 crores plus the maintenance.

10,000 cubic meters of air per hour..?

The energy budget needed to reach a significant level of clean air is huge and not realistic.

Air flow, even in study conditions, for a distance of 100m (the operating zone for the machine), a height of 10m (the air we breathe), and an average wind speed of 1 m/sec, translates to 100*10*1*3600= 3,600,000 cubic meters per hour !!

Of this, at a point, 10,000 cubic meters of air is purified per hour. Now, think of a city which is 30km x 30km, at least. How many of these do we need and how effective are they really going to be?

Is this a realistic solution or giving false hopes of doing something?

The air pollution studies in Delhi have shown that the road dust is a major culprit, due to active re-suspension of the dust along the roads. Most often, the dust along the major corridors is swept and piled up, which over the day, makes its way back on the road and adds to the re-suspension. Plus all the vehicular exhaust.

Why aren't the city officials responding by taking measures to reduce the dust? An immediate and cheap option is to cut the road dust. Instead of a vacuum cleaner, get some of the vacuum trucks with water sprinklers in the back to suck dust off the roads, sprinkle some water, so we reduce the re-suspension effects. A truck can cover as much as 40 km in two hours, especially in the morning hours, and might effectively reduce the exposure levels during the rush hour.

While this is an innovative and effective solution for indoor settings like tunnels and subway stations, I have my doubts for using a vacuum station in an outdoor setting like Delhi.

There is no silver bullet for improving air quality, which is a growing problem in a number of cities.

Mitigation is probably the best solution, if the goal is to reduce air pollution quickly and effectively. What Beijing officials did for Olympics was unorthodox, closing down industries and cutting down traffic for the two months, but the series of measures and the event itself gave a reason to think back and realize what is the footprint of the human activities (transport and industries) that we are experiencing in the form of air pollution and related health impacts. Same is true in case of Delhi and the coming commonwealth games.

We need to try everything from promoting the use of public transport, clearing the dust on the roads, changing fuel characteristics at the refineries, curbing garbage burning in the residential areas, and controlling emissions at the industrial stacks, before we can think of vacuum cleaners for outdoors !!

Also see

Emerging Opportunities to Capitalize on Co-benefits of Urban Pollution and Global Climate Policy

This is the presentation delivered at the National Research Conference on Climate Change, IIT Delhi, in March, 2010. Send email for a better pdf/ppt.

View more presentations from urbanemissions.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Air Pollution Alerts - March 14th, 2010

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on March 07, 2010)

DNA India, March 13th, 2010
Mohan panel to work on integrated transport policy.

Economic Times, March 12th, 2010
India's First public air purifier switched on in Delhi.

Environmental Technology, March 11th, 2010
Air quality prompts Hong Kong government warning.

Environmental Expert, March 11th, 2010
Defra to tackle air pollution.

South Asia Outlook, March 10th, 2010
Diabolic Dhaka.

The New Nation, March 10th, 2010
80,000 unfit cars cause traffic jam in city.

Bugis Junction, March 10th, 2010
There's no way the air is 'good'.

Business Week, March 10th, 2010
China’s 2009 Sulfur Dioxide Emission Declines 4.6%.

Environmental Expert, March 9th, 2010
The economic impact of noise pollution on human health.

Reuters, March 9th, 2010
U.S. "cap and trade" rebranded "pollution reduction".

Sydney Morning Herald, March 9th, 2010
Ozone levels to worsen over next 15 years.

TIME, March 9th, 2010
When Goods Get Traded, Who Pays for the CO2?

TIME, March 9th, 2010
Beijing Tries to Clean Air.

The Hindu, March 9th, 2010
Marked fall in ambient air quality in Chennai.

City Fix, March 9th, 2010
Five Months of Ahmedabad’s Janmarg: Setting the Standard for BRT in India.

Grist, March 8th, 2010
No amount of sequestration will make coal ‘clean’.

Science Daily, March 8th, 2010
Carbon Emissions 'Outsourced' to Developing Countries.

Science Daily, March 8th, 2010
LED Streetlights Best Buy for Cities.

ITDP, March 5th, 2010
Guangzhou Opens Asia’s Highest Capacity BRT System.

Guardian, March 5th, 2010
How public trust in climate scientists can be restored.

China Dialogue, March 3rd, 2010
Chinese Coal Remedies.
Part 1
Part 2

Belfer Center, Harvard, February 2010
Analysis of Policies to Reduce Oil Consumption and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions from the U.S. Transportation Sector.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

NOTE - SIM-air Website Changed !!

The Urbanemissions.Info website has been updated and new links are introduced. Now, some of the links posted on this blog may not work. I am updating them as and when I come across a blog piece, however, I suggest to start with the main page to browse the SIM-air tools @

New link to the SIM-air working papers

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Air Pollution Alerts - March 7th, 2010

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on February 28, 2010)

The Daily Star, March 7th, 2010
Making Dhaka livable.

Press Information Bureau, India, March 7th, 2010
India at 123rd position in 2010 EPI ranking-2010.

Examiner, March 5th, 2010
Pollution, pavement and people.

Guardian, March 4th, 2010
Major change is needed if the IPCC hopes to survive.

Times of Malta, March 4th, 2010
The quality of (polluted) air we breathe.

Theatro Naturale, March 3rd, 2010
Tackling air pollution and climate change together can save £24 billion in UK.

Science Daily, March 3rd, 2010
Strategies to Curb Urban Heat Island.

Science Daily, March 3rd, 2010
Road Salt and Cars Produce Extreme Water Contamination in Frenchman's Bay, Ontario, Canada.

NBC Los Angeles, March 3rd, 2010
How Much Air Pollution Costs You.

Science Daily, March 2nd, 2010
Dirty Air in California Causes Millions Worth of Medical Care Each Year.

Science Daily, March 2nd, 2010
Women More Affected Than Men by Air Pollution When Running Marathons.

Reuters, March 2nd, 2010
Climate change may extend allergy season.

The Daily Star, March 2nd, 2010
Climate initiatives not enough.

Environmental Expert, March 2nd, 2010
Asian air emissions increases ozone over western North America.

World Bank, March 2nd, 2010
Ecosystem-based Approaches to Climate Change.

TIME Online, March 1st, 2010
Green fuels cause more harm than fossil fuels.

Express Buzz, February 27th, 2010
Bus Rapid Transit needs infrastructure to work.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Road Transportation Emerges as a Key Player

New paper published in the journal of PNAS describes the role of road transportation in global warming, taking into consideration the interactions between aerosols and climate. Read the summary of the report on Science Daily.

The new analysis shows that emissions from the power, biomass burning, and industrial sectors of the economy promote aerosol-cloud interactions that exert a powerful cooling effect, while on-road transportation and household biofuels exacerbate cloud-related warming.

Co-Benefits of Air Pollution & Climate Change Mitigation: New Report

Air pollution and climate change are often treated as if they were two separate problems, when they actually represent the same scourge. This book by the Swedish EPA presents an understanding of the important links between these two challenges and highlight the prospects and benefits of co-controlling them.


Chapter 1: Common Roots of Air Pollution and Climate Change; Chapter 2: Development of Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Emissions; Chapter 3: Atmospheric Aerosols – Cooling and Warming of the Climate; Chapter 4: Ozone and Methane – Climate and Environment Connected; Chapter 5: Nitrogen Effects on Ecosystems in a Climate Change Perspective; Chapter 6: Climate Change Modifies Air Quality; Chapter 7: Air Pollution Interacts with Climate Change – Consequences for Human Health; Chapter 8: Air Pollutants and Greenhouse Gases – Options and Benefits from Co-Control; Chapter 9: Air Pollution and Climate Change – the Case for Integrated Policy from an Asian Perspective; Chapter 10: Air Pollution and Climate Change Links – a United States Perspective; Chapter 11: Towards a Joint Strategy for Air Pollution and Climate Change

Also see