Thursday, December 29, 2011

Air Pollution Sources in Pune, India

A recent study has shown that brick kilns, stone quarries and diesel generators contribute to a city's pollution level in a major way. Even though kilns and quarries are located on the outskirts, the pollution travels towards the city. Article published in Times of India (Pune) on December 29th, 2011

The study 'Urban air pollution and co-benefits analysis in India' was carried out in six cities, including Pune, in 2011. Conducted by New Delhi-based independent research group UrbanEmission.Info, the aim of the study was to better understand sources of air pollution.

In case of pollutant particulate matter PM 10 (10 micrometre or less in size) in the city, it was found that around 47% of PM 10 is contributed from road dust, nearly 17% from vehicles, close to 13% each from brick kilns and rural bio-mass cooking/ kerosene use and almost 7% from generators and industry. In case of PM 10, all six cities exceed the annual ambient standard of 60 ug/ m3 (micrograms per cubic metre).
The study was initiated with support from the Climate Works Foundation (USA) and the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (New Delhi). The research group used the SIM-Air (Simple Interactive Models for better Air quality) family of tools for the study. The tools help establish a multi-pollutant emissions inventory and involve rapid assessment.

Sarath Guttikunda, founder of UrbanEmissions.Info and developer of the SIM-Air family of tools, who was in the city recently to deliver a talk organised by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), said that a majority of the 400 brick kilns located in the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) areas add to the pollution level in Pune city and that the central parts of Pune city are the most polluted. There is use of light- and heavy-duty vehicles in and around the brick kilns too adds to pollution.

"Diesel generators sets used in hotel, apartments, hospitals and markets is a new source contributing to pollution. Diesel generator sets are a common sight in most parts of the six cities and are a significant source of pollutant emissions and green house gas emissions,'' he said.

Guttikunda, who is also an affiliate associate research professor at the Desert Research Institute, Reno, USA, pointed out that the pollution from fossil and bio-mass fuel usage at brick kilns is a growing problem in most cities. Burning of fossil and biomass fuels releases significant amounts of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. These emissions have an immediate affect on the ambient air and human health.

In Pune, most of the brick baking is conducted as a pile with no chimney to support to movement of the burning emissions, whereas in Chennai, the same process is supported with a chimney, which allows for release of emissions at a higher altitude, the study states.

Besides the brick kilns, stone quarries are a common sight in these cities. At one stone quarry area in Pune, it was observed that on a daily basis around 500 truckloads of stone, black boulders and murum are extracted and transported to various parts of the district and the state. The health risks associated with constant exposure to the dust particles in these areas is under study. Also, quarry locations account for the re-suspension of dust due to crushing and handling of rock and emissions from the truck movement and use of diesel generators, he said.

The study with recommendation for the city is now submitted to the PMC. PMC's environment officer Mangesh Dighe said he has received the study and will now look into the recommendations as well as the model.

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