Sunday, September 25, 2011

Air Pollution Alerts - September 25th, 2011

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on September 18th, 2011)

The Assam Tribune, August 25th, 2011
Urban transport authority in Guwahati city likely.

BD News, September 25th, 2011
Govt imposing new tech on brick kilns.

Science Magazine, September 25th, 2011
Tick Tock, Modeling Emissions From Trees Around the Clock.

China Daily, September 23rd, 2011
Environmental quality standards under change.

Treehugger, September 23rd, 2011
Trading Charcoal for Sustainably Farmed Biofuel in Africa (Video).

Forbes, September 23rd, 2011
America's Most Stressful Cities.

Huffington Post, September 23rd, 2011
Michele Bachman Needs to Go to China Before She Tries to Shut Down the EPA.

Indian Express, September 22nd, 2011
MoUD pitches for vehicle cess to fund urban public transport.

All Africa, September 22nd, 2011
Africa: Fact Sheet On U.S. Action in Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Reuters, September 22nd, 2011
China to tighten emissions from thermal power plants.

Asia One, September 21st, 2011
Asean urges Indonesia to sign pollution pact.

NRDC Switchboard, September 21st, 2011
New source of information for Americans facing oil and gas drilling in their communities.

AFP, September 21st, 2011
Protests mark rising environment awareness in China.

The Economist, September 20th, 2011
Global health - Developing diseases.

Standford Daily, September 20th, 2011
Study shows black carbon is major warming culprit.

BD News, September 20th, 2011
US invites Bangladesh to clean cooking.

The National, September 20th, 2011
Environmental protests halt production at polluting Chinese solar panel plant.

Deccan Herald, September 19th, 2011
Tax likely for parking cars along roads.

Science Magazine, September 19th, 2011
Return of a Killer Volcano.

Radio Free Asia, September 19th, 2011
China Study Eyes Carbon Tax.

Economic Times, September 18th, 2011
Ships of hope on the mighty Brahmaputra.

The Energy Collective, September 18th, 2011
A Marshall Plan to Build a Smart Grid -- in China.

All Africa, September 18th, 2011
Kenya: How Grandiose Lamu Port Project Is Alienating Coastal Communities From Country.

All Africa, September 18th, 2011
Nigeria: Climate Change and Agriculture in Country.

Times of India, September 18th, 2011
Experts mull on high speed rail transport.

The Economist, September 17th, 2011
Green growth - Some emerging-world companies are combining growth with greenery.

People's Daily, September 16th, 2011
First liquefied natural gas station opens in Tibet.

People's Daily, September 15th, 2011
China prepares for 5th Car-Free Day.

VECC-MEP, September 15th, 2011
China Commits to Landmark Agreement With Dual Ozone and Climate Benefits.

CRI English, September 13th, 2011
Blue Sky Project Proposes Low Carbon Plan.

Cities Alliance, September 13th, 2011
Developing an Energy-Efficient Urban Transport Plan for Zarqa, Jordan.

Economic Times, August 29th, 2011
Air far from clean, city noisy too - Chennai, Tamilnadu, India.

Economic Times, August 1st, 2011
Ambient air quality in mining areas in Goa, India.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Car Fumes Can Trigger Heart Attacks !!

Breathing in heavy traffic fumes can trigger a heart attack, say UK experts
(from BBC, September 21st, 2011).

Heart attack risk is raised for about six hours post-exposure and goes down again after that, researchers found.

They say in the British Medical Journal that pollution probably hastens rather than directly cause attacks.

But repeated exposure is still bad for health, they say, substantially shortening life expectancy, and so the advice to people remains the same - avoid as far as is possible.

Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which co-funded the study, said: "This large-scale study shows conclusively that your risk of having a heart attack goes up temporarily, for around six hours, after breathing in higher levels of vehicle exhaust.

"We know that pollution can have a major effect on your heart health, possibly because it can 'thicken' the blood to make it more likely to clot, putting you at higher risk of a heart attack.

"Our advice to patients remains the same - if you've been diagnosed with heart disease, try to avoid spending long periods outside in areas where there are likely to be high traffic pollution levels, such as on or near busy roads."

Early peak

The research looked at the medical records of almost 80,000 heart attack patients in England and Wales, cross-referencing these details with air pollution data.

This enabled the investigators to plot hourly levels of air pollution (PM10, ozone, CO, NO2, and SO2) against onset of heart attack symptoms and see if there was any link.

Higher levels of air pollution did appear to be linked with onset of a heart attack lasting for six hours after exposure.

After this time frame, risk went back down again.

Krishnan Bhaskaran from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the research, said the findings suggested that pollution was not a major contributing factor to heart attacks.

For example, being exposed to a spell of medium-level rather than low-level pollution would raise heart attack risk by 5%, by his calculations.

"If anything, it looks like it brings heart attack forward by a few hours. These are cardiac events that probably would have happened anyway."

But he said the findings should not detract from the fact that chronic exposure to air pollution was hazardous to health.

Prof Pearson from the BHF agrees: "Unhealthy diets and smoking etc are much bigger heart attack risk factors, but car fumes are the cream on the cake that can tip you over."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Air Pollution Alerts - September 18th, 2011

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on September 4th, 2011)

ICCT, September 18th, 2011
India Air Pollution & Health Workshop.

NRDC Switchboard, September 17th, 2011
Getting slicked by big oil.

DNA India, September 17th, 2011
Transport: Mysore makes a smart move.

Co-generation On-Site, September 17th, 2011
Hong Kong: Speech by SEN on Building a Green Hong Kong.

Bangkok Post, September 17th, 2011
Setting wheels in motion in Bangkok.

NPR, September 16th, 2011
Why'd It Take So Long To Invent The Wheel?

NPR, September 16th, 2011
EPA Postpones Power Plant Emissions Rules.

PRO-Publica, September 16th, 2011
Science Lags As Health Problems Emerge Near Gas Fields.

Grist Magazine, September 16th, 2011
Climate-denying candidates make more Americans believe in global warming.

Grist Magazine, September 16th, 2011
Watch comedian David Mitchell take the piss out of climate deniers.

Science Daily, September 16th, 2011
Cities to Grab Lands Equaling Size of Mongolia In Next 20 Years.

CSE, September 16th, 2011
Petrol hike will push diesel car demand.

China Daily, September 16th, 2011
Low-carbon growth 'needs incentives'.

Platts, September 15th, 2011
China oil demand growth to slow more on weak economic outlook.

Common Dreams, September, 15th, 2011
China Green News, September 14th, 2011
Ministry of Environmental Protection May Change Air Quality Measurement Standards.

Construction Week Online, September 13th, 2011
Construction sector behind GCC air pollution.

European Parliament, September 13th, 2011
MEPs call for cuts in non-CO2 greenhouse emissions.

ADB, September 13th, 2011
ADB Loan Boosts Solar Power in India's Gujarat.

Cause Because, September 13th, 2011
Pollution: How we make it happen.

Philippine Star, September 13th, 2011
Myanmar to upgrade hotels to meet ASEAN standard.

Science Daily, September 13th, 2011
Tools That Will Help Reduce Nitrogen Pollution.

Science Daily, September 13th, 2011
Can Scientists Look at Next Year's Climate?

Science Daily, September 12th, 2011
Health Fears Over CO2 Storage Are Unfounded.

Science Daily, September 12th, 2011
Sustainability Scientists Suggest How Countries Can Cooperate On Climate.

Times of India, September 12th, 2011
Diesel cars give petrol cousins a run for their money.

The Guardian, September 11th, 2011
Climate change: summer in the city.

The Guardian, September 11th, 2011
Biomass schemes will boost destructive timber imports, claims wood industry.

Shanghai Daily, September 10th, 2011
Reusable subway tickets developed.

New York Times, September 10th, 2011
Bicycle Visionary.

Vietnam News, September 9th, 2011
Vehicle fumes to be cut from 2017.

TIME, September 9th, 2011
Natural Gas Can Save the Climate? Not Exactly.

The Grist Magazine, September 9th, 2011
Switching from coal to natural gas would accelerate climate change.

Grist List, September 9th, 2011
Gaze upon the eight circles of commuting hell.

The Guardian, September 8th, 2011
Beijing set to become world's busiest aviation hub with new mega-airport.

MoNRE, September 8th, 2011
Pollution problems worsen in capital of Vietnam.

The Atlantic, September 7th, 2011
In Fast-Growing China, a Warning About When Prosperity Isn't Enough.

Science Daily, September 7th, 2011
CERES Continues Legacy of Cloud Study On NPP.

The Hindu, September 7th, 2011
Volvo to enter medium bus segment.

The City Fix, September 7th, 2011
Indian Cities Score Low in Walkability Ratings.

Xinhua Net, September 7th, 2011
China outlines reduction targets in energy consumption by 2015.

CNTN, September 6th, 2011
China to make clean fuels a priority.

Common Dreams, September 6th, 2011
Oil Exploration Under Arctic Ice Could Cause 'Uncontrollable' Natural Disaster.

Climate-L, September 6th, 2011
Clean Energy: Helping Propel Asia to New Prosperity.

Edie Net, September 6th, 2011
Water scarcity overtakes global warming as top environmental concern.

New York Times, September 2nd, 2011
Obama Administration Abandons Stricter Air-Quality Rules.

Press Information Bureau, September 2nd, 2011
Concentration of PM10 in Ambient Air in Delhi much above the Notified Standards.

NPR, September 2nd, 2011
Obama Withdraws Proposed Regulation On Smog.

CNN, August 31st, 2011
Why are hurricane forecasts still so rough?

MoNRE, August 23rd, 2011
It’s more difficult than thought to remove brick kilns in Vietnam.

MoNRE, August 23rd, 2011
Vietnam to bring clean energy to 600,000 households.

Vietnam Net, August 21st, 2011
Small scale brick kilns in Vietnam gradually killing creatures in Nghe An.

Science Daily, August 20th,2011
Growth of Cities Endangers Global Environment.

CNN, August 17th, 2011
Tackling climate change still a luxury in developing world.

The Economist, August 13th, 2011
Sticking it to China - A factory in rural Georgia helps East Asia eat.

David Mitchell (The Comedian) Making Fun on Climate Change Doubters

Last week David Mitchell solved the environment - and he's a bit miffed that didn't make more of a stir. So this week he thought he'd tackle climate change doubters. These disbelievers must concede that climate change is a 'possibility'. In which case, why take the risk – and continue ruining the planet, in the meantime?

Another video on Sustainability.

More from David Mitchell's Soap Box (The Guardian)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Walkability in Indian Cities

The Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia) released a study that benchmarks the pedestrian infrastructure of six Indian cities. The publication, “Walkability in Indian Cities,” looks at walkability in Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Indore, Pune, Rajkot and Surat. The study also contains pedestrian preference interviews from these cities and an assessment of current policies on pedestrians and walking environments, which includes discussions with stakeholders. Finally, the study also compares walkability across other Asian cities.

According to the study:

“Indian cities were built for walking and cycling. However, rapid motorization combined with limited attention to pedestrian facilities has inadvertently resulted in a decrease in the overall mode share for non-motorized transport. Strategies must be incorporated in order for people to reclaim the urban environment overrun by motor vehicles. Policies and investments provide an impetus to transform Indian cities, encourage pedestrianization and allow people to enjoy better mobility and quality of life.”

The study finds that pedestrian facilities are lacking and insufficient in Indian cities, especially within areas where they are the most needed, like areas with a high number of pedestrians and public transport options. A universal concern for all of the cities studied was also the lack of facilities for people with disabilities.

Out of a possible 100 points, the average walkability score of the six Indian cities was a 47, where residential areas received higher ratings and public transport terminals received lower ones. Pedestrian preference interviews revealed that neglecting pedestrian infrastructure can drive city inhabitants to motorization. According to the study, 60 percent of the respondents rated pedestrian facilities in their cities as either “bad” or “worst,” and 62 percent revealed that they would shift to motorized modes of transport if the walking environments in their cities do not improve.

Out of the six cities, Pune scored the highest with a rating of 54 out of 100. But in comparison to other Asian cities, the scores remain relatively low. Hong Kong, for example scored a 70 out of 100 for walkability.

The assessment of policies and institutions found a general lack of relevant initiatives that cater to the needs of pedestrians. “Because of the neglect, miniscule funds are allocated for pedestrian infrastructure and improperly used,” the report says.

Some suggestions from pedestrian interviewees include simple measures, like allocating clean footpaths without obstructions and reducing vehicular speeds at crossings. To improve walkability, the study provides several recommendations:

  • Improving institutional arrangements and creating dedicated institutional support for pedestrians;
  • Developing mandatory complete streets design guidelines;
  • Setting stringent walkability improvement targets including pedestrian mode share and pedestrian fatality reduction;
  • Conducting annual pedestrian benchmarks;
  • Integrating walkability to improve city plans;
  • Promoting applied research on walkability; and,
  • Making allies for improving walkability in India

Pedestrian infrastructure is not only important for road fatalities but also because it would serve a dual purpose in public health. “Improving the pedestrian facilities significantly reduces the shift from non-motorized transportation to two wheelers and cars, thereby minimizing traffic congestion and pollution emission that threatens public health,” the Clean Air Initiative explains.

Read the report here.

Commuter Pain Index

86% of respondents in Beijing, 87% in Shenzhen, 70% in New Delhi and 61% in Nairobi said traffic was a key inhibitor to their work or school performance. Meanwhile 67% of drivers in Mexico City, 63% in Shenzhen and New Delhi and 61% in Beijing said they’d decided against a car trip in the last month due to anticipated traffic.

Read More

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Exposure to Particulate Pollution in Auto-Rickshaws (3-Wheelers) in Delhi

This is the research work carried out by Mr. Joshua Apte, a Ph.D student at the University of California, Berkeley. He spent a year in Delhi, in 2010, taking measurements and analyzing the results to better understand the levels of pollution for a commuter in an auto-rickshaw (also known as 3-wheelers). Here is a video from a section of the trip.

Following his presentation at the CSE's Dialogue with Doctors workshop on August 31st, 2011 (read CSE's press release and access the presentations)
this is what we saw in the media

Indian Express, September 1st, 2011
Delhi seems less polluted now, but autos not best way to travel

An Autoricshaw ride in Delhi comes at a great cost, and not just for your pocket. A recent study conducted by Joshua Apte, a PhD candidate from the University of Berkeley, has found that a single trip in an autorickshaw in Delhi could expose you to levels of air pollution that are much greater than full-day exposure experienced by residents of developed countries.

Apte was presenting the results of his study at a dialogue on air pollution organised by the Centre for Science and Environment here on Wednesday. He explained that the study was conducted during February and May 2010, and researchers were made to travelled in autorickshaws on a fixed route in South Delhi for the purpose.

“We made two trips a day in an autorickshaw, 75 times from South Delhi to Connaught Place. During each trip, we measured the actual particle concentration inside the vehicle while moving through the traffic,” he explained.

The study shows that commuters breathe far more harmful particles inside vehicles while travelling, as compared to areas with ambient air concentration, such as Lodhi Gardens. “The particle matter (PM2.5) concentration inside vehicles can be 1.5 times higher thah the surrounding background air, and ultrafine levels are about eight times higher,” Apte explained.

A lot of this, he said, has to do with exposure to sudden peaks in pollutant levels. Using video footage taken while travelling in an autorickshaw, he illustrated how the readings for particulate matter inside the vehicle spike everytime it gets stuck in traffic.

“There is very little data on exposure to air pollution while in traffic, as opposed to ambient air levels. Ambient air monitors, which are now being installed in Delhi, will miss out on a bit of the story. The fact is, there is a very high concentration of pollutants while travelling in open vehicles, and these peak exposures can do major damage,” Apte said.

Pollution levels have improved considerably over the past decade, and the city is no longer enveloped in black smog, admitted CSE executive director Anumita Roychowdhury. However, she cautioned that the authorities must not take this for granted, because pollutants still pose a major risk to people’s health.

“Earlier, pollution used to be measured only in terms of particulate matter. But now we have new substances to deal with, such as nox and ozone. People who access urban roads regularly and those who live close to roads are at a high risk of being affected by vehicular air pollution. According to estimates, about 55 per cent of Delhi’s population lives within 500 metres of such roads and are, therefore, prone to a variety of physical disorders,” she said.

And there are also people who misconstrue the objective of the study and publish this...

Times of India, September 1st, 2011
AC cars may keep you fit

Air pollution is posing serious health hazards for the people of the national capital.

Researchers from Berkeley University carried out a survey in Delhi between February and May 2010 to analyse the impact of pollution on those using public transport.

The study – Concentration of fine, ultrafine and black carbon particles in autorickshaws in New Delhi, India – published in Atmospheric Environment, says those travelling in autos and cars with windows rolled down are exposed to 1.5 times more PM 2.5 concentrations than the ambient air. Exposure to ultrafine particles are 8.5 times higher. Joshua Apte, who headed the research, said those travelling in air-conditioned vehicles suffered 35-55% less pollution as compared to those in autos.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Improved Cookstoves in South Asia

today.. From Mr. Lalloobhoy Battliwala

A good literature review.

Can't tell just what was improved or how long the improvement lasted. If there were fuel savings, no idea where they were banked and at what interest rate.

Why, just why, do the poor have to be cheapened down (as in being "dumbed down")? Why is their choice limited to status quo, $5-20 'improved' stoves that are not convenient or reliable (and rarely purchased again), or switching to charcoal, kerosene, LPG and electricity?

I reckon "modern" fuels (incl. processed solid fuels) - and purchased prepared or semi-prepared food - have captured ~70% of the incremental cooking/heating market for the poor in the last 30 years, "traditional" fuels and stoves another 25%, and "improved stoves" with "traditional fuels" perhaps 5% if that and perhaps on a non-sustained basis (meaning, x here for ten years, y there for three years).

I always want to be proven wrong, but would rather be surprised by a stove that works and is desired, and given as a wedding gift.


Read the full report "Improved Cookstoves in South Asia"

Monday, September 05, 2011

A Graphic Explanation of "What is Source Apportionment"

Building an effective air quality management system requires a process of continual improvement in knowing where the pollution is coming from and how much each of the sources are contributing to the ambient air quality. The source apportionment techniques are now well established to develop this information for informed decision making.There are two ways in apportioning pollution - (a) A top-down approach starting with monitoring of pollution and (b) A bottom-up approach starting with the activity data (like fuel consumption). Both the methods are well studied and documented. The literature available on these approaches to successfully conduct a source apportionment study is immense. In September, 2011, for the readers, we simplified the explanations, methods available, frequently asked questions, myths, expected results, and on how to consolidate the results from the two approaches, into a graphic document, as part of the SIM-comic book series.

Others in the SIM-air Comic book series
A detailed handbook on source apportionment was published in March, 2011 by the ESMAP program (The World Bank). Download the report and more from "Review of Top-down Source Apportionment Techniques and Their Application in Developing Countries".


Sunday, September 04, 2011

Air Pollution Alerts - September 4th, 2011

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on August 28th, 2011)

USA Today, September 2nd, 2011
Obama decides against tougher ozone standards.

The White House Blog, September 2nd, 2011
Cleaner Air and a Stronger Economy – A Record of Success.

China Daily, September 2nd, 2011
Jewel of the south.

Thanh Nein News, September 2nd, 2011
Residents clash with polluters.

DNA India, September 2nd, 2011
Rajkot, Surat need dedicated pedestrian space.

BD News, September 1st, 2011
One mosquito coil 'equals 100 cigarettes'.

The Telegraph, September 1st, 2011
World’s worst lungs are in India - Cross-continental survey raises deeper air pollution fears than suspected.

One World South Asia, September 1st, 2011
Air pollution in Delhi invisible but rising.

Tree Hugger, September 1st, 2011
If Congress Guts Even More Environmental Rules, How Many Jobs Will Be Gained?

Science Daily, September 1st, 2011
Cutting Soot Emissions: Fastest, Most Economical Way to Slow Global Warming?

Grist Magazine, September 2nd, 2011
Obama blows smog in everyone’s face.

India Today, September 1st, 2011
Delhi's air pollution is deadlier than thought.

Deccan Chronicle, September 1st, 2011
Indians’ lungs unhealthiest in the World.

Green Answers, September 1st, 2011
Apple Accused Of Widespread Pollution In China.

Beyond Brics, September 1st, 2011
Beijing: the most liveable city in China, for whom?

Bits of Science, September 1st, 2011
Anti-soot policy can solve 15% climate change within decade.

Times of India, September 1st, 2011
Air pollution back as big health threat in Delhi.

China Daily, September 1st, 2011
China needs to act fast on oil spills.

Joint Research Center, August 31st, 2011
Limiting short term climate change and improving air quality.

CSE, August 31st, 2011
CSE's Press Release: Dialogue on Air Pollution and our health.

Hindustan Times, August 31st, 2011
Ozone can trigger asthma.

China Daily, August 30th, 2011
Beijing to cap coal use to reduce pollution.

Science Daily, August 30th, 2011
Mysteries of Ozone Depletion Continue 25 Years After the Discovery of the Antarctic Ozone Hole.

Xinhua net, August 29th, 2011
China meets pollution control targets for 2006-2010.

Switch Board, August 29th, 2011
Time to Decide: Protect Kids, or Polluters?

Xinhua Net, August 29th, 2011
China launches special supervision in 15 companies for pollution control violations.

Daily Finance, August 29th, 2011
China's Pending Energy Crisis.

COP17, August 29th, 2011
As COP17 approaches: Dirty Durban’s manual for climate greenwashing., August 19th, 2011
Controlling pollution in cities.

World Bank Institute, August 16th, 2011
WBI Global Dialogues on Climate Change: Scaling up Mitigation Actions in Cities.

University of Minnesota, May, 2011
How Affordable is Transportation? A Context-Sensitive Framework.