Thursday, March 29, 2012

Air Pollution in Chennai, India

The Hindu, March 28th, 2012

City's pollution level is thrice that of what the global body permits

Findings of a recent study have shown that suspended particulate matter (SPM) levels in the city far exceed national standards and those set by the World Health Organisation.

“While the national annual ambient average for particulate matter is 60 microgram per cubic metre, the WHO standard is 20 microgram per cubic metre. Measured emissions in Chennai, however, range between 60 and 120 microgram per cubic metre,” said Sarath Guttikunda, co-director of UrbanEmissions.Info, which conducted the study. He was speaking at a workshop — ‘Air quality and co-benefits with a focus on Chennai' — here on Tuesday.

There was a need to monitor petrol stations as even small leaks would have a bearing on the levels of volatile organic compounds, he said. “Around 600 brick kilns situated 30-40 km away from the city also add to the emissions. They must be modernised to prevent adding to the city's pollution load.”

The study, conducted in six Indian cities — Pune, Indore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Surat and Rajkot — was not just about emission levels but also about the health impacts on residents. In 2010, the six cities accounted for an estimated annual figure of 15,200 premature deaths due to exposure to air pollution that was above the WHO guidelines. Mr. Guttikunda explained that these levels are very significant and comparable to the levels being experienced in cities across Asia.

Rajesh Rangarajan of, Centre for Development Finance, said that there was a need for more monitoring stations in the city and areas newly added to it. “Suspended particulate matter levels have been high irrespective of the type of location, season or activity pattern. More stations would mean a clearer picture of the pollution levels and the kind of pollutants. The level of nitrous oxides has remained at almost a constant state. This needs to be looked at,” he said.

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board Deputy Director (Labs) V. Chandrasekar said improving public transport would help reduce nitrous oxides. He said that proposals have been submitted for the installation of monitoring equipment at 10 traffic intersections and also for more ambient air monitoring stations in the recently expanded areas of the city.

Chennai City Needs More Monitoring Stations

Times of India, March 28th, 2012

CHENNAI: The air you breathe could be much more polluted than the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) would have you believe.

A group of environment agencies, which collected data for over a year, says the board does not have
enough stations to monitor ambient air quality in Chennai. The few existing stations are in the wrong places and do not provide an accurate picture of the rising pollution levels. There are no monitors, for example, near the city's highly polluted dumping yards at Kodungaiyur and Perungudi.

At a workshop to analyze urban air quality of Chennai organized by the Institute of Financial Management and Research (IFMR) and Urban Emissions.Info, experts pointed out that Chennai's air pollution levels were among the worst in the country but the city lacked a proper system to monitor the problem.

 Rajesh Rangarajan, project lead of IFMR's India Pollution Map, said monitoring by the pollution control board should be extended to the suburban areas. "Emission sources like dumpsites also need to be monitored for a better understanding of pollution in the city," Rangarajan said.

He said the board had not installed pollution recording meters in Perungudi and Kodungaiyur despite complaints by the thousands of families living in these areas over air being filled with smoke from burning garbage.

Chennai has five ambient air quality monitoring stations run by the TNPCB. Experts say these stations do not record figures that properly reflect even air pollution levels of the neighbourhoods in which they are located because they have been set up on streets with low traffic density.

Chitra Grace, a senior epidemiologist with the Indian Council of Medical Research, said pollution monitoring standards should be revised regularly because new pollutants can enter urban environments.

"The current PM10 (particulate pollution) standard has to be revised. We should also analyze the levels of benzene and other dangerous pollutants," she said.

UrbanEmissions.Info co-director Sarath Guttikunda said the city needed at least twice as many pollution monitoring stations. "Pollution data should be made public to help residents understand the seriousness of the issue," he said.

TNPCB deputy director V Chandrasekar said 10 ambient air quality meters would soon be installed at major traffic intersections and five each in other cities and towns in the state.

"We have also proposed three mobile air pollution monitoring stations that are pending government clearance," he said. He said better coordination between various government departments would improve urban air quality.

"We need a system in which information is shared between government departments," Chandrasekar said.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Air Pollution News & Alerts - March 25th, 2012

Urban Age, March 25th, 2012
Measuring the Human Urban Footprint.

Info Mongolia, March 25th, 2012
Mongolian capital city hopes to improve transportation with huge investment.

China.Org, March 25th, 2012
Zhejiang releases PM2.5 data for 7 cities.

Financial Express, March 25th, 2012
Energy research council to be formed.

The Financial, March 24th, 2012
540,000 will Benefit from Better Urban Transport.

Eurasia Review, March 24th, 2012
Pakistan’s Dangerous Levels Of Indoor And Outdoor Pollution.

Indian Express, March 23rd, 2012
IIT-Delhi begins study to identify pollutants affecting Golden Temple.

Vietnam News, March 23rd, 2012
Capital's air still worst in SE Asia.

The Harbus, March 23rd, 2012
Chinese Twitter Site Weibo Used in the Fight for Beijing Air Quality.

Thanh Nien News, March 22nd, 2012
Hanoi most polluted city in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam Net, March 22nd, 2012
Transport vehicles are the culprit that cause air pollution in urban areas.

Indian Express, March 21st, 2012
KEM unit studies how biomass fuels affect health.

The Guardian, March 20th, 2012
Live discussion: how can business enable energy access for all?

Times of India, March 20th, 2012
Blueprint charts urban transport mess, pitches for a u-turn.

Environmental Protection, March 19th, 2012
Lung Doctors Expect Respiratory Diseases will Worsen with Global Climate Change.

The Korean Times, March 19th, 2012
Taking advantage of urbanization.

DAWN, March 19th, 2012
Climate Change could claim 150,000 lives annually.

Global Times, March 19th, 2012
Shanghai's car plate auction hits new high.

China Daily, March 19th, 2012
Late snow clears the air in Beijing.

Info Mongolia, March 19th, 2012
Russians Creating New Technology to Produce Fuels for Ulaanbaatar.

The Guardian, March 18th, 2012
China's challenges: political change, pollution and protest.

Counter Punch, March 18th, 2012
The Perils of Fracking.

CNTN, March 18th, 2012
Air pollution awareness soars in China.

Urban Vision, March 17th, 2012
Is JNNURM about Inclusive Development?

The Hindu, March 17th, 2012
Delhi share goes down by Rs. 157 crore.

China Daily, March 17th, 2012
Fog grounds flights in north China.

RTCC, March 16th, 2012
Could people power drive Bangladeshi clean environment movement?

In These Times, March 16th, 2012
Getting on the BRT Bus: U.S. Cities Eye Mexico Program That Benefits Workers.

NPR, March 16th, 2012
Mount Everest Still Holds Mysteries For Scientists.

The Guardian, March 16th, 2012
Air pollution could become China's biggest health threat.

Science Daily, March 16th, 2012
Past in Monsoon Changes Linked to Major Shifts in Indian Civilizations.

Science Daily, March 16th, 2012
Invasive Plants: Climate Is a Determining Factor.

The Guardian, March 15th, 2012
London air pollution at record high.

The Guardian, March 15th, 2012
Air pollution 'will become bigger global killer than dirty water'.

Washington Post, March 15th, 2012
What’s going to kill us in 2050? Air pollution — and lots of it.

OECD, March 15th, 2012
Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction.

Philippine Information Agency, March 14th, 2012
DENR asked vehicle owners to clear emissions.

Beyond Brics, March 14th, 2012
The cost of China’s pollution.

Press Information Bureau, March 13th, 2012
Pollution by Okhla Waste-to – Energy Plant.

Switchboard NRDC, March 13th, 2012
If you care about cities, return that new iPad.

Shanghai Daily, March 13th, 2012
Shanghai plans for less car use.

Sun Star, Manila, March 13th, 2012
Vehicle owners told to clean up emissions.

Green Car Reports, March 12th, 2012
Tata Reboots Nano, World’s Cheapest Car, As Coolest Small Car.

China.Org, March 12th, 2012
China's rural pollution to be monitored soon.

China Daily, March 12th, 2012
Tianjin to release PM2.5 data in April.

Shanghai Daily, March 12th, 2012
City issues first PM2.5 air-quality warning.

NPR, March 12th, 2012
Power Grid Must Adapt To Handle Renewable Energy.

Pakistan Observer, March 21st, 2012
Karachi University workshop on air pollution.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Global Modeling of Intake Fractions due for Urban Vehicle Emissions

Apte JS, Bombrun E, Marshall JD, Nazaroff WW, 2012. Global intraurban intake fraction for air pollutants from vehicles and other distributed sources. Accepted, Environmental Science & Technology, DOI: 10.1021/es204021h.

Among key sources of outdoor air pollution, urban motor vehicles have especially high iF, since they emit at ground level in close proximity to populations. Previous studies have demonstrated that iF for primary urban vehicle emissions varies among cities owing to differences in urban form and meteorology. However, the vast majority of existing iF data are available only for cities in high income regions (e.g., North America, Europe).

To understand gobal patterns of iF for urban vehicle emissions, we modeled iF for primary, distributed ground-level air pollutant emissions in 3,646 worldwide urban areas. This dataset includes nearly all cities with year-2000 population ≥ 100,000, with a combined total of > 2 billion inhabitants. The analysis employed a scalable single-compartment Eulerian model, which we configured for each city using global meteorological and demographic datasets.

The analysis shows that the global average intraurban iF for vehicle emissions of primary, conserved pollutants (39 ppm) is roughly twice as large as the mean iF in US cities (21 ppm) and in other "land-rich" high income countries (16 ppm). The intraurban iF is high in rapidly motorizing countries such as China and India (mean iF ~ 44 and 51 ppm). We found very high iF for the 11 "megacities" in Asia, such as Beijing, New Delhi, and Dhaka (mean iF: 110 ppm, range: 67 - 260 ppm).

A policy implication of this research is that efforts to reduce vehicle emissions in high-iF cities (such as many cities in Asia) may yield especially high population exposure benefits per unit of mitigation.

See more at Joshua Apte's homepage.

Air Pollution Will be the Biggest Killer of Humans in 2050 (OECD Report)

An article from the Guardian on March 15th, 2012 is quoted below.

This article is based on the report released by OECD. Click on the image to view the full report - Environmental Outlook to 2050.

Urban air pollution is set to become the biggest environmental cause of premature death in the coming decades, overtaking even such mass killers as poor sanitation and a lack of clean drinking water, according to a new report.

Both developed and developing countries will be hit, and by 2050, there could be 3.6 million premature deaths a year from exposure to particulate matter, most of them in China and India. But rich countries will suffer worse effects from exposure to ground-level ozone, because of their ageing populations – older people are more susceptible.

The warning comes in a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is a study of the global environmental outlook until 2050. The report found four key areas that are of most concern – climate change, loss of biodiversity, water and the health impacts of pollution.

If current policies are allowed to carry on, the world will far exceed the levels of greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are safe, the report found. "I call it the surrender scenario – where we would be if governments do nothing more than what they have pledged already?" said Simon Upton, environment director at the OECD. "But it could be even worse than that, we've found."

The report said that global greenhouse gas emissions could increase by as much as half, as energy demand rises strongly, if countries fail to use cleaner forms of energy. Water demand is also likely to rise by more than half, and by 2050 as much as 40% of the global population is likely to be living in areas under severe water stress. Groundwater depletion would become the biggest threat to agriculture and to urban water supplies, while pollution from sewage and waste water – including chemicals used in cleaning – will put further strain on supplies.

However, the OECD study alsos said that there are some actions that governments can take quickly to tackle some of the key problems. For instance, many governments treat diesel fuel for vehicles differently than petrol for tax purposes, with tax breaks that encourage the take-up of diesel. But although diesel vehicle fuel produces lower greenhouse gas emissions than petrol, it is far worse for spewing out small particulate matter, which is bad for urban pollution. "In environmental terms, there is no reason to give diesel tax breaks over petrol," said Upton.

Governments could also remove other environmentally harmful subsidies, such as fossil fuel subsidies and subsidies for water that encourage irresponsible use of the resource. Biofuels are another potential danger area, because although they can emit less carbon than conventional fossil fuels, they also contribute to reducing biodiversity and put further strains on water use, so governments should consider carefully whether to go down the biofuels road, Upton warned.

Upton said that if governments took action now, and developed long-term views of these environmental problems, it would give them a much greater chance of avoiding the worst outcomes. "The key thing is that these four biggest problems are interconnnected – biodiversity is affected by climate change and land use, water is linked to health problems, for instance. You can't solve any one of these in isolation. So to be effective, governments have to focus on all of these four and look very closely at the connections between them," he said.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Air Pollution News & Alerts - March 11th, 2012

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on February 26th, 2012)

USEPA, March, 2012
U.S. - India Collaboration on Air Quality and Climate Research and Education.

Jakarta Post, March 11th, 2012
End of the Road? Phasing Out Jakarta's Bajajs.

Info Mongolia, March 11th, 2012
Owners of car will pay fee in Ulaanbaatar.

UB Post, March 11th, 2012
Married me, without me - False Promises on Air Pollution Control.

The Daily Star, March 10th, 2012
Check city air pollution in Dhaka.

China Daily, March 10th, 2012
Sustainable urbanization has many benefits.

East Day News, March 10th, 2012
Shanghai City releases new air-quality data.

China Daily, March 9th, 2012
Learning from Singapore's success.

Wall Street Journal, March 9th, 2012
Following Beijing, Hong Kong Releases PM2.5 Pollution Data.

The Hindu, March 9th, 2012
From New Delhi, some urban legends.

The Hindu, March 9th, 2012
Where the pedestrian is king of the road.

China Daily, March 8th, 2012
Hong Kong commences PM2.5 hourly reporting.

China Daily, March 8th, 2012
Beijing to switch from coal to gas to go green.

Reuters, March 8th, 2012
China vows to destroy, not relocate, polluting plants.

Indian Express, March 8th, 2012
UT to make Sector 17 vehicle-free in Chandigarh, India.

NRDC Switchboard, March 7th, 2012
What Would Happen if all the Lobbyists for Polluters were Replaced by Asthmatic Children?

Huffington Post, March 7th, 2012
5 Scientists (and Dr. Oz) Make Clean Air Sense.

Peoples Daily Online, March 7th, 2012
Pearl River Delta TO release PM 2.5 in March.

Energy Digital, March 6th, 2012
U.S. EPA MACT Rules Buoys Air Pollution Control Equipment in the Global Energy and Power Industry.

Nature, March 5th, 2012
Emissions from Asia put US cities over the ozone limit.

R&D, March 5th, 2012
Berkeley Lab quantifies effect of soot on snow, ice.

Eco Business, March 5th, 2012
Beijing strives to be coal-free.

UB Post, March 5th, 2012
Responsibility for litter lays with unconcerned citizens.

Reuters, March 5th, 2012
China's missed pollution goals show failure to change -NDRC.

Reuters, March 5th, 2012
China lead pollution poisons 160 children.

Crienglish News, March 3rd, 2012
Environment Researcher Calls for Innovation of Air Monitoring Equipment.

China Daily, March 3rd, 2012Air quality efforts lauded.

The Daily Star, March 3rd, 2012
Making brick kilns emission efficient.

Press TV, March 3rd, 2012
Delhi's population directly affected by air pollution.

IBN Live, March 2nd, 2012
Making public transport system energy efficient.

Global Post, March 2nd, 2012
Majority of China's cities will fail to meet new air quality standards.

BBC, March 2nd, 2012
China cities 'will not meet new air standards'.

National Post, March 2nd, 2012
Power Plant pollution is not a new concern.

China Dialogue, March 1st, 2012
Could China redefine the car?

TIME, March 1st, 2012
War on Coal: Why Polluting Plants Are Shutting Down Nationwide.

The Guardian, March 1st, 2012
China combats air pollution with tough monitoring rules.

The Green Car, March 1st, 2012
Are we underestimating black carbon emissions?

China Dialogue, March 1st, 2012
Could China redefine the car?

Rush Lane, March 1st, 2012
Only 17 cities adhere to BS IV norms in India with pollution levels at an all time high: We breathe sulphur.

Times of India, March 1st, 2012
55% Delhi population directly hit by air pollution.

Smart Planet, February 29th, 2012
In Beijing, targeting polluters with Google Maps.

The Hindu, February 29th, 2012
The city and the city - Bengaluru.

China Daily, February 29th, 2012
Monitoring of PM2.5 to be extended.

Fast Co-Design, February 29th, 2012
Famed Artist Olafur Eliasson Creates LED Light For Developing World.

UNEP, February 28th, 2012
One Step Closer Towards Cleaner Cookstoves in Afghanistan.

The Pioneer, February 28th, 2012
Vehicular emission unabated as pollution levels rise.

Climate Central, February 28th, 2012
Natural Gas Our New Savior? Not So Fast . . .

China Daily, February 28th, 2012
China on the path to efficient use of energy.

Shanghai Daily, February 28th, 2012
Shanghai 'good air' days may be numbered.

Business Standard, February 27th, 2012
Sunita Narain: Clean energy, dirty business.

Hindustan Times, February 24th, 2012
Pedestrians not welcome on roads.

SEI, February 23rd, 2012
Q&A: Johan Kuylenstierna on the new coalition to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.

China Daily, February 22nd, 2012
New system to help clear the air.

Vietnam Net, February 1st, 2012
Hanoi’s air quality declines.

Vietnam Forum of Environmental Journalists, January 31st, 2012
Plan to perfect air-quality monitoring system underway.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Govt Should Stop Subsidy on Kerosene !!

An interview with Director General, TERI, RK Pachauri.
Published in Business Standard, February 5th, 2012

From having high profile visitors like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Arnold Schwarzenegger, corporates and institutions such as Asian Development Bank, the three-day sustainability summit organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri), witnessed debate on an array of issues. Director General R K Pachauri, who was busy brainstorming with foreign delegates, spoke to Piyali Mandal on the key takeaways from the event. Edited excerpts:

The summit is happening ahead of the Union Budget. During the summit, the issue of financing green projects was discussed. What are the demands you will place before the finance minister?
One area would be energy access. It is irrational to have a subsidy on kerosene when we know that almost half of that kerosene actually goes into adulterating other petroleum products. Today, we have a solar lantern and a solution which is sustainable, clean and healthy. If they have to provide subsidy, they can provide it to a solar lantern or at least stop subsidising kerosene.

Just a day ahead of the sustainability event, you had the Global CEO’s summit. What feedback did you get?
Corporates have two sets of concern; one is clear assurance on the continuation of policy. They would like to see the government announces a policy and does not change it overnight. After all, they have to make investment and carry out research and development, which becomes relevant if there is continuity of policy. The second aspect relates to opportunities that businesses find. In the whole area of protecting the global commons and persuading a path of sustainable development, businesses see huge opportunity. These markets are going to grow in the future; whether you take renewable energy or clean technologies. Those businesses that would take note of this and start investing would be the one that come out as winners.

What was the key message from the summit?
In all our economic activities we need to identify and estimate private costs and benefits versus social costs and benefits because as long as there is going to be a large diversity between these two sets of costs and benefits, you will have either under exploitation or over-exploitation of natural resources.

Our pricing schemes and policies will have to be devised in such a way that we ensure the wealth that nature has provided us does not deplete or diminish. Otherwise, it won't be sustainable. The impact of climate change issues is becoming progressively serious. As an integrating factor, one could look at the concept of sustainable development goal, coming up with green pattern of economic development; these are sort of the fall-outs of some of the issues that have been discussed here.

What is the road ahead?
We will prepare a document, which will be a statement of the secretariat of the summit and send it to the official Rio+20 process. We will also submit it to the government of India.

17 Cities in India with 40% Car Market Follow BS-IV Norms !!

Article Published in Rush Lane.

From the original 14 cities that switched to Bharat Stage 4 (BS IV) emission norms earlier, 3 more cities have joined the list from today.  This takes the number to 17 Indian cities committing to cleaner fuel in the county's quest for better air quality.

Back in 2010, the NCR, Kolkata, Pune, Surat, Lucknow, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Agra, Hyderabad, Kanpur, and Solapur began adhering to BS IV norms that were enforced. For the remainder India, BS III norms were made effective. Ankaleshwar in Gujarat), Hissar in Haryana, and Bharatpur in Rajasthan will now adhere to BS IV emission norms. By 2015, this number will be increased to 50. BS IV petrol and diesel sulphur content is lower. This being a major air pollutant continues to plague cities that still follow BS III norms.

The 17 cities where BS IV emission norms are followed represent 40% of the Indian car market. Selection of cities that need to follow BS IV norms are being decided based on vehicle population, pollution levels. State capitals, and cities with 1 crore+ population are also being looked into. By 2015, India plans to make BS IV emission norms applicable to 50 cities. While there's no denying that work in this direction is progressive, real advancement points to quicker and stricter implementation.

At present, India ranks the worst amongst 132 countries when it comes to unhealthiest air in the world. The major contributors are vehicular traffic, vehicle exhaust and urbanization.

Read More on Air Pollution Exposure Rates in Delhi.

Emission and fuel economy are affected by factors other than engine technology. This includes much needed phasing out of older vehicles that still ply on Indian roads. Infrastructure development would mean better road systems that get a boost from better quality roads, ring roads, and express highways, and this is necessary. Reducing traffic congestions in cities, and better implementation of traffic signal systems to reduce stoppages is a necessity too. This apart the need for better fuel quality can't be denied. (Read - Will Congestion Fees Solve the Problem?)

What needs to be evaluated constantly is fuel supply and vehicle diesel fuel quality improvement in India. There's also the need to emphasise on emission control technologies pertaining to high sulphur diesel fuel. Alternative fuels and dual fuel technology potential needs to be investigated, and a boost to hybrid technology would have a favorable result. (Click on the image to track pollution sources in Indian cities - CPCB Study)

On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) is designed to monitor an engine's major components performance and includes those responsible for controlling emissions. This is by and large missing in light and heavy commercial vehicles in India and OBD enforcement should be a focus for India.

Read - Walkability in Indian Cities.

Friday, March 02, 2012

New Air Pollution Monitoring Rules in China

State media acknowledge role of online environmental activists in forcing government to act on poor air quality in cities. This article is published in The Guardian, March 1st, 2012.

Chinese authorities have set tougher rules to combat air pollution by ordering all major cities to monitor tiny particles that do serious damage to health. One of China's leading environmental activists, Ma Jun, greeted the change as a major step forward.

Surprisingly, given China's strict control of the internet, state media have acknowledged the change is partly in response to online environmental campaigners.

The national air quality rules were agreed at an executive meeting of the state council presided over by the premier, Wen Jiabao, on 1 March, a statement on its website said.

They order stricter air pollution monitoring standards this year in the mega-cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Tianjin, 27 provincial capitals, and three key industrial belts: the Yangtze and Pearl river deltas, and Beijing's hinterland. Another 113 cities must adopt new standards next year, and all but the smallest cities by 2015.

To "help allay public concern over official air quality readings", levels of ozone and PM2.5 particles must be included. PM2.5 particulate matter is below 2.5 micrometres in diameter, or 1/30th the width of an average human hair, and easily penetrates lung tissue.

"This is a major step forward in terms of China's process to combat urban air pollution," said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. "The prerequisite for mobilising our people is to let them know what is going on.

"It doesn't mean that the sky will turn blue automatically because at the end of the day we still need to cut off these emissions."

Following the announcement, more than a million – mostly positive – comments were posted on the Weibo micro-blogging service in under 24 hours. "Good news, applause," wrote Xu Xiaonian, a prominent economist. Others questioned whether the rules would be enforced.

In January, Beijing's environmental agency included PM2.5 particles in its calculations after months of postings from netizens mocking the discrepancy between officially clear days and the dense smog at their windows. Ma said social media had played an essential role in changing government policy last year.

State media also acknowledged the role of bloggers: "A stirring campaign on the country's social network websites since last autumn seemed to have gained a satisfying response from the country's policymakers," Xinhua news agency said.