Friday, May 30, 2014

China Taking 6 Million Old Vehicles Off the Road to Cut On-road Pollution

The Chinese government has announced plans to take up to 6 million vehicles that don’t meet emission standards off the roads by the end of the year, in a bid to reduce the country’s air pollution problems. Read more @ The Guardian

The move is part of a plan published by China’s cabinet, the State Council, which outlined emission targets for a number of industries over the next two years. The State Council said that some pollution targets are not being met for the 2011-2013 period and that action needs to be stepped up. China is facing a “tough situation” in hitting its targets for energy and emissions for 2015, Xu Shaoshi, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission was quoted by state media.

One fifth of the vehicles to be scrapped will be in the northern regions of China, which have been the worst hit with air pollution. Hebei province, where seven of China’s smoggiest cities are located, has been ordered to scrap 660,000 cars that don’t meet emission standards. Up to 333,000 will be taken off the roads in the capital Beijing and 160,000 in Shanghai. More vehicles will be scrapped next year with up to 5 million being removed from the roads of highly developed regions including the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and the smog-choked region of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei.

“Strengthening control on vehicle emissions will be a major agenda item for the country’s energy savings, emissions reductions, and low-carbon development during the next two years,” the plan said.
According to the state news agency, Xinhua, removing these older vehicles from the roads will help China to meet some of its green targets such as reducing energy consumption, and will also help to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide by 2% a year and emissions of nitrogen oxides by 5% per year. The Ministry of Environmental Protection said that 7.8% of cars on China’s roads do not meet the minimum national standards. According to figures published by Xinhua, 31.1% of air pollution in Beijing comes from vehicle exhaust emissions.

A number of Chinese cities have started restricting vehicle licenses as a way of reducing car use. The city of Hangzhou recently restricted the number of new car licenses it issues and will only issue new plates via an auction and lottery. The cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Guiyang and Tianjin also limit the number of new vehicles registered each year. According to the plan issued by the State Council, the government will also reduce coal consumption and introduce more green technologies. Xu Shaoshi was quoted in state media saying that a report will be published monthly on how regions are carrying out energy reductions.

The State Council also issued guidelines to increase food safety. In a statement, it said that there will be more measures taken to deal with soil and water pollution. There will also be punishment for those who are found to be using banned pesticides.

Tackling pollution has become a top priority for the Chinese government. Years of rapid economic development have left the country with high levels of air, soil and water pollution. The often hazardous levels of air pollution in some cities regularly make headlines worldwide. While a recent government report estimated that 20% of the country’s farmland is polluted and the land and resources ministry has said that nearly 60% of groundwater is polluted.

London's NO2 Concentrations Worse Than Beijing

Levels of the harmful air pollutant nitrogen dioxide at a city-center monitoring station are the highest in Europe. Concentrations are greater even than in Beijing, where expatriates have dubbed the city’s smog the “airpocalypse.”

It’s the law of unintended consequences at work. European Union efforts to fight climate change favored diesel fuel over gasoline because it emits less carbon dioxide, or CO2. However, diesel’s contaminants have swamped benefits from measures that include a toll drivers pay to enter central London, a thriving bike-hire program and growing public-transport network.

“Successive governments knew more than 10 years ago that diesel was producing all these harmful pollutants, but they myopically plowed on with their CO2 agenda,” said Simon Birkett, founder of Clean Air in London, a nonprofit group. “It’s been a catastrophe for air pollution, and that’s not too strong a word. It’s a public-health catastrophe.”

Read more @ Bloomberg News

London isn’t alone in having bad air in Europe, where 301 sites breached the EU’s NO2 limits in 2012, including seven in the British capital. Paris, Rome, Athens, Madrid, Brussels and Berlin also had places that exceeded the ceiling. The second and third-worst sites among 1,513 monitoring stations were both in Stuttgart after London’s Marylebone Road.

“Nitrogen dioxide is a problem that you get in all big cities with a lot of traffic,” said Alberto Gonzalez Ortiz, project manager for air quality at the European Environment Agency, which is based in Copenhagen. “In many cases it’s gotten worse because of the new fleets of diesel cars.”

The EU limits NO2 to a maximum of 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The concentration on Marylebone Road, a stone’s throw from Regent’s Park, was almost 94 micrograms in 2012, according to the most recent data from the EEA.

The level for the site last year was 81 micrograms, and it’s averaging 83 micrograms this year, according to King’s College London. In 1998, when the King’s College data begins, it was 92. That’s about the time the switch to diesel started.

Vehicle Exhaust Emissions Cost Rich Countries $0.8 Trillion a Year as Health Impacts

Cars are pricey enough, but they take another toll. Smog from road transport drains $0.8 trillion yearly from a group of 34 wealthy nations. A report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that air pollution costs OECD countries $1.7 trillion a year in healthcare and premature deaths. Road transport accounts for half of this.

Estimating the costs of environmental problems is a good way to get governments to take action, says Darby Jack of Columbia University in New York. "That's the language they speak," he says. "When it's done right it can really make an impact."

The most harmful emissions come from diesel engines, so the OECD wants governments to remove incentives to buy them. The organisation also suggests expanding urban bicycle sharing and electric car programmes, and introducing more charges for the use of roads.

Air pollution also costs $1.4 trillion in China and $0.5 trillion in India. Both have seen deaths due to smog rising faster than the global average. Many nations are trying to cut smog, for instance, by making cars more efficient, but any gains have been overwhelmed by the rising number of cars in fast-expanding cities in China and India.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Rough Road For BRT Systems in New Delhi

High-speed bus systems in crowded urban areas have taken off from Brazil to China, but introducing this form of mass transit to the teeming Indian capital of New Delhi has proven to be a vexing challenge. Read more @ Yale 360

Against Public Interest - Undermining BRT in Delhi, India

Welcome to New Delhi’s “bus rapid transit,” or BRT, system, an initiative designed to help ease traffic congestion, encourage use of public transportation, and reduce air pollution in this congested capital city of 13.8 million. But Delhi’s six-year-old BRT project has run into numerous snags, including the incursion of cars and other vehicles into the BRT lanes — a development that can defeat the purpose of a system designed to be faster than general traffic. City officials once hoped to create 14 additional BRT corridors, but the system has not expanded beyond its inaugural 3.6-mile stretch.

Enrique Penalosa at the TEDCity2.0 Talking About the Importance of Buses and Public Transport in the Cities

Since 2007, India’s transportation planners have conducted an ambitious experiment by introducing high-speed buses to congested megacities. They have modeled their BRT networks on similar systems, with designated high-speed lanes, that have delivered myriad benefits for urban transit grids around the world, including in Bogotá, Tehran, and several cities in China.

Delhi Government to Dismantle the 6km BRT Lane in the City !!

India’s BRT experiment faces unique challenges, Hidalgo adds. Latin American cities that introduced BRT systems already had robust public bus networks, making a conversion to higher-speed ones relatively easy, whereas Indian cities are typically filled with cyclists and three-wheeled auto rickshaws, he explains.

Delhi BRT is Now in a Society Class Divide (BBC)

Hidalgo says that even though India’s BRT systems are growing steadily —seven extensive BRT systems now operate nationwide and several others are in the planning stages — they have made only a small dent on India’s increasingly car-centric transportation landscape. “The big challenge for India is if they keep motorizing, they will face enormous difficulties,” he says, including the exacerbation of an already severe air pollution problem.

Shortage in Bus Manufacturing Leading to Scrapped Buses Plying on the Delhi Roads

Read more @ Yale 360

Sunday, May 25, 2014

20,000 sq.m Polyester Dome Over a Stinky Factory

A Chinese company in the eastern city of Hangzhou has constructed a massive inflatable dome over the site of a closed down pesticide factory, state media reported on Wednesday. While it covers an area the size of roughly three football fields, the 20,000-square-metre polyester dome still covers less that half the contaminated zone, according to the reports. Read more @ Straits Times

The factory was shut in 2009, but the stench emitted by the soil still forces nearby residents to cover their mouths and noses, according to the state media. The cause of the odour was not given. Decades of unrestrained economic growth has hit China's environment hard, and anger over pollution has triggered protests that have helped make China's leadership more sensitive to the risks.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Beijing to Cut 2.6 Million tons of Coal Use to Combat Air Pollution

China will shut down Beijing's coal-fired power plants and limit coal for boilers and industrial use this year to combat the capital's air pollution, state media reported on Thursday. The measures aim to cut the amount of coal used this year by 2.6 million tons, and instead adopt clean energy and gas as a less pollutant alternative, the official Xinhua news agency said. More @ Reuters

China has vowed to reverse the damage done to its environment by decades of untrammelled economic growth, and has identified the regions of Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin as key targets of a programme to curb big industries like steel, thermal power and cement, all major sources of smog.

On Monday, Xinhua reported that the industrial city of Tianjin in northern China would adopt a range of measures on days of heavy smog, including limiting the number of vehicles allowed on roads. Economic growth has long topped China's political agenda. But public anger over pollution has sparked protests and the government has now vowed to impose its will and make cleaning up the environment a priority. Even so, authorities often struggle to bring big polluting industries and growth-obsessed local authorities to heel.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

10 Billion Yuan earmarked to Fight Air Pollution in China

China has earmarked 8 billion yuan (1.3 billion U.S. dollars) to fight air pollution in the country's three industrial zones, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday. The money is expected to accelerate air pollution treatment in areas around the deltas of the Pearl and Yangtze rivers and the region covering Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province, according to the ministry. Another 2 billion yuan will be allocated in the second half of the year, mainly targeting the Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei area, the ministry said @ Xinhua Net

Friday, May 16, 2014

VOC Emissions from EU Scooters

Scooters are a popular form of transportation in much of the world, particularly in Asia and southern Europe. It’s not uncommon, for instance, to see newly minted Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu zipping around Paris or, say, the French President slipping away from the Élysée to meet up with his mistress.

Read the full article @ Forbes

The trouble with scooters, however, is that the EU does not hold them to the same emissions standards as cars and other vehicles. As a result, they are heavy polluters, as shown in new research by European scientists in the journal Nature Communications. The pollution is so bad, the authors write, that the European Commission believes “that scooters will emit more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than all other vehicles combined in Europe by 2020.” The following chart demonstrates why

The chart compares scooter emissions (which were measured by the researchers) with other vehicles (whose data was obtained from the literature). The four sectors of the graph represent (a) primary organic aerosols, (b) primary + secondary organic aerosols, (c) benzene, and (d) light aromatics. They also compared emissions to environmental samples taken in Asia, Europe and the United States (also obtained from the literature).

As shown, two-stroke (2S) scooters emit 100 to 1,000 times more pollution compared to cars, vans and other light-duty vehicles (LDV), as well as trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles (HDV). Notably, scooters emitted about 20 times more pollution than what is found on a road/tunnel dominated by cars. Benzene emissions are so high that the authors claim waiting behind one in traffic might actually damage your health. (Although, that claim would need to be subjected to further scrutiny.)

It should be noted that, according to the data the authors presented, air pollution is worse in the U.S. than in Europe. But, if scooters keep increasing in popularity and the EU does not tighten regulation of 2S scooter emissions, that could change. Perhaps Europeans should consider upgrading to 4S or zero-emission electric scooters.

Platt SM, et al. “Two-stroke scooters are a dominant source of air pollution in many cities.” Nat Commun 5:3749 (2014). doi: 10.1038/ncomms4749

Delhi Air Pollution Related Deaths Up 100% Since 1991

The health of Delhiites has been hit hard by air pollution, with the number of deaths and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases linked to the menace shooting up in recent years. A World Health Organisation (WHO) study ranked New Delhi as the world's worst city for air pollution, with an annual average of 153 micrograms of small particulates, known as PM 2.5 per cubic metre. Released on Wednesday, the study conducted in 1,600 cities found that air pollution has worsened since a smaller survey in 2011, putting Delhi residents at higher risk of cancer and heart disease. Read the full article @ India Today

A similar study done by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee in association with the University of Minnesota and University of Colorado at Denver has revealed a marked rise in deaths due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and hospital admissions for "chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases" (COPD) linked to pollution.

"As many as 8,945 cases of total mortality, 3,413 cases of cardiovascular mortality, 1,302 cases of respiratory mortality and over 12,809 hospital admission of COPD were recorded in Delhi in 1991. With 100 per cent growth, figures in 2010 became 18,229 cases of total mortality, 6,374 cases of cardiovascular mortality, 2,701 cases of respiratory mortality and 26,525 hospital admission," the study done by Professor Bhola Ram Gurjar of IIT-Roorkee said. In 2000, about "11,394 cases of total mortality, 3,912 cases of cardiovascular mortality, 1,697 cases of respiratory mortality and 16,253 cases of hospital admission of COPD" were recorded for Delhi, reported the study titled 'Human health risks in national capital territory of Delhi due to air pollution'.

The study, recently published in Atmospheric Pollution Research journal, adopted WHO guideline concentrations for assessing air pollutants like sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and total suspended particles (TSP). The study also assessed the risk to people from these pollutants. It found that higher ambient concentrations of suspended particulate matter (SPM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are responsible for excess number of deaths and illnesses in Delhi. The study covered the areas of North-West, South, West, North-East, South-West, East, North Central and New Delhi districts during 1991-2010.

Link to the journal article

They calculated the health risks using ambient air pollution concentration data of nine districts. Concentration data of monitoring stations in each district was used for calculating district-wise health risk estimates. The results found dissimilar trends in terms of deaths, diseases and hospital admissions. From 2002, the North-West district was at the top for the highest excess number of cases of hospital admission of COPD until 2010, while from 2002 to 2010, the North West district topped the chart with the excess number of cases of deaths due to cardiovascular diseases.

Doctors have been witnessing an increased number of cases of respiratory disease which they attribute to air pollution. "There is an increase in cases of respiratory diseases, especially in children. Air pollution is contributing to respiratory diseases while there is also a possibility of malformation of organs in new born babies as mothers are exposed to pollution for prolonged periods," said Dr. Dinesh Kapil, consultant pediatrician at Red Cross Hospital.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Delhi Choking with NO Action on Pollution Control

Last week, WHO ranked New Delhi as the world’s worst city in terms of air pollution. Our experts promptly contested the findings, pointing out that the pollution levels of Beijing, the Chinese capital, were worse than Delhi’s in summer and much worse in monsoon months. Only on certain winter days our air pollution reaches Beijing’s levels due to adverse meteorological factors. See more @ Hindustan Times

Bad Air Quality is Bad - Whether it is First Place or Second - What's There to Reject?

So should we be smug? We are perhaps too accustomed to Delhi’s air to tell how polluted is polluted enough. But ask any international tourist visiting Delhi for the first time and she will tell how our air smells of burnt paper.

The government didn’t have a clean-up plan till two years back when Delhi clocked 12 days of continuous smog in November 2012. The Supreme Court intervened, extracting promises of refor ms and regulations from the government. The Delhi government warned of strict penalties for those who burned leaves and garbage, and stringent action against polluting vehicles entering the city. It also promised to put in place an air quality index on display boards, recommending motorists to use public transport and warning people about the ill effects of smog. But already in election mode, fighting air pollution was the last thing on the government’s mind.

Delhi’s biggest problem is its eight million vehicles. One in every 10 vehicles of India is registered in this city and the number is growing by 10% every year. So the advantages of turning the fleet of 1,00,000 buses, taxis and auto rickshaws to Compressed Natural Gas-mode in 2002 have been squandered. Today, air pollution in Delhi is comparable to the pre-CNG days.

For years, almost all expert studies commissioned by the government have recommended congestion pricing and road space rationing. Singapore (1975), London (2003) and Milan (2008) have introduced it successfully. Beijing plans to do it by next year.

An emissions inventory for Delhi @ 1kmx1km resolution

The government has to provide decent travel alternatives and then take tough measures. The 12-year-old Delhi Metro ferries 2.5 million passengers daily. Yet at least 700 new cars hit Delhi’s roads every day. Clearly, not many of those who can afford to buy cars are using the Metro.

Many stretches of Delhi are still not on the Metro map. The absence of last-mile connectivity — means to commute to and from Metro stations— and overcrowding are the other dampeners. According to Centre for Science and Environment, bus ridership in Delhi dropped from 60% in 2000 to 40% in 2012. As a result, Metro is always packed during peak hours. RITES, a government-owned engineering consultancy, forecasts that even after the completion of the Metro project, its ridership will be at 20% of the vehicular traffic in 2021. Therefore, it recommends, the bulk of the public transport services will have to be bus-based.

Defending Delhi's Air Quality?

Metro runs on time but the bus service is not dependable. For several years, the government has been promising the use of Global Positioning System on every bus to update the commuter waiting at the stop on the expected time of arrival of buses. The expensive LED display boards installed at all new bus stops built during the Commonwealth Games have either been vandalised or run trial messages. The kiosks to display bus routes and timetables lie vacant. The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system is plagued by a truncated route, poor bus frequency, few stops, and absence of a centralised management.

Infographic comparing air pollution in Delhi and Beijing 

In Beijing, they have already declared a smog emergency. On days when there is a red alert, the city authorities have decided to ply 25,000 buses per day (against 21,000 on normal days) and extend its subway operation time by half an hour in the evening to accommodate an additional two million people on its public transport. This March, Paris authorities opened up their public transport system to everyone for free for three days when thick smog enveloped the city. ? If we dither any longer over an action plan in the soot-laden car Capital of India, we will soon earn the choker’s tag, literally.

Urban Forest for Milan Expo 2015

The external facade of Nemesi & Partners‘ Palazzo Italia is made from a special type of air-cleaning cement patented by Italcementi. According to the architects, “In direct sunlight, the active principle contained in the material ‘captures’ certain pollutants present in the air and converts them into inert salts, helping to purify the atmosphere from smog.” Read more @ inhabitat

Inspired by traditional Italian villages, the internal structure of the Palazzo Italia takes the form of a central square. Four separate blocks will surround this square to provide space for exhibitions, events, offices and meeting rooms. Temporary “Cardo buildings” will also provide European Union spaces, additional exhibition spaces, and restaurants for Expo attendees.
Nemesi & Partners won an international competition held in 2013 to decide who would design the pavilion. Since then, they have brought onboard the engineering firms Proger and BMS Projects, along with the sustainability consultant Livio De Santoli to ensure the building will be ready in time for the expo next year.

In Praise of Air - Pollution Eating Poetry

The writing is on the wall for smog as the world’s first air-cleansing poem is unveiled. A catalytic poem called In Praise of Air is printed on material containing a formula that is capable of purifying its surroundings (Catalytic Poetry). This cheap technology could also be applied to billboards and advertisements alongside congested roads to cut pollution. The professor who came up with the idea of using treated materials to cleanse the air, said: “This is a fun collaboration between science and the arts to highlight a very serious issue of poor air quality in our towns and cities.

Read more @ Science Daily.

Air Pollution News & Alerts - May 15th, 2014

The City Fix, May 15th, 2014
China Transportation Briefing: E-bikes and the challenge of traffic safety.

Air Quality News, May 15th, 2014
Heightened air pollution forecast over weekend.

Hindustan Times, May 14th, 2014
Are we doers or chokers? Capital’s air quality hinges on the answer.

Times of India, May 14th, 2014
Agra doctor moves green tribunal over air pollution.

Times of India, May 14th, 2014
WHO report prompts air pollution panel to look into Yamuna river.

Wash Plus, May 14th, 2014
Household air quality risk factors associated with childhood pneumonia in urban Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Science Daily, May 14th, 2014
Emissions by carbon-neutral municipalities down by almost 20 per cent in six years.

Science Daily, May 14th, 2014
Writing is on the wall for air pollution, thanks to air-cleansing poem.

The Guardian, May 14th, 2014
IPCC's outdated climate change communication won't cut it.

Forbes, May 14th, 2014
Scooters: Europe's Pollution Machines.

Reuters, May 14th, 2014
Refiners face $13 billion clean fuels bill.

Times of India, May 14th, 2014
November deadline for thermal plants on fly ash disposal.

Bloomberg, May 13th, 2014
Coal Pushback: Carbon Limits for New Power Plants Must Be ‘Grounded in Reality'.

The Guardian, May 13th, 2014
11 paths to electrifying Africa.

Inhabitat, May 13th, 2014
Giant Air-Purifying "Urban Forest" Unveiled for the Milan Expo 2015.

Scientific American, May 13th, 2014
Smog-Sucking Electrostatic Vacuum Cleaners May Scrub Polluted Air.

Quartz News, May 13th, 2014
Beijing just handed out the city’s largest-ever fine for air pollution—to a US joint venture.

NRDC Switchboard, May 13th, 2014
Mounting Evidence that EPA Must Curb Toxic Air Pollution from Fracking Sites.

ECNS, May 13th, 2014
Beijing-Tianjin electric vehicle network being built.

Xinhua Net, May 13th, 2014
China Exclusive: China to build 12 power transmission lines.

Live Mint, May 12th, 2014
IEA terms India’s plan to become energy independent as ambitious.

Hindustan Times, May 12th, 2014
2 of 3 plants shut, Punjab running on borrowed power.

The Globe and Mail, May 11th, 2014
India’s politicians are in denial about pollution.

Financial Express, May 11th, 2014
Worst Urban Air in Bangladesh.

Live Mint, May 11th, 2014
Emission panel for pan-India shift to Bharat Stage V fuel by 2020.

Financial Express, May 11th, 2014
Poor Air Quality of Dhaka.

Indian Express, May 10th, 2014
Choking on air.

Business Standard, May 10th, 2014
PSPCL to buy short-term power due to demand-supply gap.

DNA India, May 10th, 2014
Ahmedabad air: India's 5th most polluted.

Financial Express, May 10th, 2014
Delhi not alone, 25 other Indian cities have higher air pollution levels than Beijing.

Xinhua Net, May 10th, 2014
Chinese capital ranks 41 for livability as air pollution worsens.

Times of India, May 9th, 2014
Raipur among world's 20 most polluted cities.

Times of India, May 9th, 2014
Beijing battled crisis, Delhi fiddled.

UB Post, May 9th, 2014
New thermal power plants and improvements in soums.

Hindustan Times, May 9th, 2014
Air pollution in Amritsar declines, as per PPCB data.

Outlook, May 9th, 2014
BJP to Address Delhi Air Pollution Issue If Voted to Power.

Engineer Live, May 9th, 2014
Coal-fired technologies back in the spotlight.

Resource Investing News, May 9th, 2014
MicroCoal: A Look at Coal Upgrading Technology.

PR News Wire, May 8th, 2014
Air Quality Control Systems Market worth $78.0 Billion by 2019.

Economic Times, May 8th, 2014
India rejects WHO data showing Delhi air as world's dirtiest.

The Guardian, May 8th, 2014
India admits Delhi matches Beijing for air pollution threatening public health.

UK Mail Online, May 8th, 2014
Chinese city unveils mega spray that will squirt smog and pollution out of the sky.

CNN, May 8th, 2014
Top 20 most polluted cities in the world.

Financial Express, May 8th, 2014
Delhi is the most polluted city: World Health Organization.

First Post, May 8th, 2014
WHO report shows Delhi, not Beijing is worst in air pollution.

Xinhua Net, May 8th, 2014
Air quality deteriorates in most cities worldwide.

Wall Street Journal, May 7th, 2014
In Air Pollution Fight, Beijing Replaces BBQ With Burning Buses.

Reuters, May 7th, 2014
WHO finds Indian cities have dirtiest air; Chinese data foggy.

Deccan Herald, May 7th, 2014
Gwalior, Raipur, Delhi top air pollution list.

Science World Report, May 7th, 2014
WHO Reports Cities in India Have Worst Air Pollution.

Chicago Tribune, May 7th, 2014
China fertile ground for green progress.

Financial Express, May 7th, 2014
Protect the rivers in Dhaka from air pollution.

Times of India, May 7th, 2014
Chandigarh air hits new low.

UPI News, May 6th, 2014
China's freshest air could soon be inside cars.

DNA India, May 6th, 2014
Suffering from asthma? Avoid comfy auto rides, buses are safe in Pune.

The Week, May 5th, 2014
Beijing creates 'Airpocalypse' beer as tribute to the country's notoriously bad air.

South China Morning Post, May 5th, 2014
Beijing ramps up ‘war on pollution’ with record number of fines.

Energy Central, May 5th, 2014
Climate change threatens to worsen U.S. ozone pollution.

The Guardian, May 4th, 2014
Has cycling finally become a natural part of British city life?

The Hindu, May 3rd, 2014
The ‘cost’ of urban living.

IPP Media, May 3rd, 2014
Thousands die from city air pollution annually.

Coast Week, May 3rd, 2014
Ghanaian minister urges collaboration among African countries to reduce pollution levels.

Yale 360, May 3rd, 2014
In New Delhi, A Rough Road For Bus Rapid Transit Systems.

UK Daily Mail, May 3rd, 2014
Live 1,000ft from roads asthmatics are told: Scientists warn of growing impact of air pollution on sufferers.

Friday Flyer, May 2nd, 2014
Near and Far with The Friday Flyer: Student explores modern and ancient China.

The Hindu, May 2nd, 2014
A silent killer that’s not an election issue.

UK Metro, May 2nd, 2014
How air pollution shaped the capital.

Global Post, May 2nd, 2014
Chile's Bachelet unveils anti-pollution plan.

Air Quality News, May 2nd, 2014
Commons audit committee launches air quality inquiry.

CNN, May 2nd, 2014
Why is California 'worst'?

Forbes, May 1st, 2014
Air Pollution In China Inspires New Fashion Trend.

Shanghai Daily, May 1st, 2014
City aims to cut VOC for clean air.

CNN, May 1st, 2014
It's time to stop ignoring the bad air we breathe.

Australian Mining, May 1st, 2014
Is 'underground coal gasification' the new fracking?

The Hindu, April 29th, 2014
Overloaded trucks cause more pollution, accidents.

The Hindu, April 29th, 2014
Overloaded trucks cause more pollution, accidents.

Power Engineering, April 25th, 2014
EIA: Coal stockpiles at power plants expected to rebuild.

Power Engineering, April 25th, 2014
Australian government looks to reward efforts to curb emissions.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Bad Air Quality is Bad - Whether it is First Place or Second - What's There to Reject?

India's air monitoring centre on Thursday dismissed data released by the World Health Organisation that showed New Delhi's air as the dirtiest worldwide, saying the finding was biased and misleading.

Read the article @ Economic Times

A study of 1,600 cities across 91 countries released Wednesday by WHO showed Delhi had an annual average concentration of airborne small particles of less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, known as PM 2.5, of 153. This was almost three times as high as the reading for Beijing of 56 despite the Chinese capital's reputation for smog, and 10 times that of London.

Infographic comparing air pollution in Delhi and Beijing

"We have data for New Delhi which is not biased," Gufran Beig from the state-run System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said.  "It takes into account the data taken from 10 air quality monitoring stations spread around the capital in an unbiased way. It is not misleading," Beig said. "We are now studying the data for 2011-14 which we have procured from the US embassy in Beijing. This will help us arrive at a more accurate comparison," Beig said.

The WHO used data for New Delhi from 2010 to 2013 from five monitoring stations in residential and other areas. The data from China, where authorities are under pressure to be more transparent about pollution, was from 2010, the last year for which figures were available. The WHO stressed that its new air pollution database, which relies mainly on data gathered by the cities themselves, did not aim to rank cities, pointing out that "some of the worst ones ... are not collecting data regularly." PM2.5 particles are very small in size and can easily enter the body and interfere with the functioning of the lungs. They are also associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease. WHO says concentrations of the larger PM10 particles should remain below 20 micrograms per cubic metre, averaged out over the year, while the limit for PM2.5 is set at 10 micrograms.

While Delhi ranked as worst on the PM2.5 scale, on the PM10 measure others were far more polluted. Peshawar and Rawalpindi in neighbouring Pakistan trumped all other cities with readings of 540 and 448 respectively. Delhi has had its air quality under scrutiny for some time now with a research by Yale University scientists in January this year also suggesting it was worse than Beijing.

A World Bank report last year that surveyed 132 countries ranked India 126th for environmental performance and last for air pollution. State-backed Indian scientists have repeatedly denied the findings.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Are you Suffering from Asthma - Take a Bus and Avoid Rickhaws in Pune

On the World Asthma Day, a message for the daily commuters in Pune, by a team of researchers from Chest Research Foundation.

Gridded Vehicle Exhaust Emissions in Pune

Link to the article @ DNA India
The researchers who made a team of volunteers travel on three different modes of transport - bus, bikes and auto-rickshaws - measured the levels of air pollutants i.e. carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitric oxide that one gets exposed to and here’s what they found. “We conducted a study in which we travelled for thirty six minutes from Kothrud and Deccan Gymkhana to Hadapsar with pollution monitoring devices using three transportation modes - two-wheelers, auto-rickshaws and PMPML bus service. When we compared the results, it was clear that there was more exposure to pollutants like SO2 and CO,when travelling in an auto-rickshaw and the least exposure was in the PMPML bus,” said Monica Barne, head of the Training Programmes Division, CRF.

Breathless in Pune - Blame it On Chilling Temperatures and Trapped Pollutants

“Every year, we are seeing a rise of at least five to ten per cent in the number of asthma patients. Rising environmental pollution plays a huge role in worsening the air quality of the city,” said pulmonologist Dr Vijay Warad.

Air Pollution Sources in Pune, India

Gufran Baig, director of Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology which measures the city’s pollution index, said, “While the ideal SPM levels should be less than 60 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3), we have observed the maximum levels to be around 135 ug/m3 which can be dangerous for asthmatics. Amongst the three pockets that fare the worst are Shivaji Nagar, Hadapsar and Bhosari because of the vehicular movements and industrial activities while peripherals of the city like Nigdi, Pashan and Baner have good air quality.”

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Are you an Asthmatic? Then Live At Least 1000ft from the Roads

The advice, which is almost impossible to implement in all but the most rural of areas, is a startling warning of the health impact of air pollution - growing pollution from traffic fumes mean people with breathing problems should live at least 1,000 feet from a busy road, scientists warn today. Scientists from the University of California said emissions from diesel engines were of particular concern for asthmatics, because it generates higher concentrations of harmful particles and nitrogen oxides.

Read the full article @ UK Daily Mail

Their work comes just days after British scientists blamed the Government's support for diesel cars for creating a health crisis which kills 7,000 people a year. The new study, published in the Lancet today, reviews five years of research which found pollutants such as particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide can cause serious cell damage to airways, triggering asthma attacks. It concluded that the pollutants pumped into the air by diesel cars - including tiny particulates and black carbon particles - can trigger asthma attacks and are worst close to roads.

The paper says: 'Patients with asthma should ideally live at least 300 metres (1,000 feet) away from major roadways, especially those with heavy truck traffic. 'Traffic-related air pollution can exacerbate asthma but concentrations of motor vehicle emissions such as ultrafine particulate matter and black carbon particles decrease substantially by 300 metres.' The authors, Professor Michael Guarnieri and Prof John Balmes, also advised motorists with asthma to drive with the windows closed.

They wrote: 'In vehicle exposure during commuting with open windows can also be very high.' Air pollution is particularly worrying for children, causing long-term problems if they are exposed to pollution early in life. The authors wrote: 'In a study of ten European cities, 14 per cent of the cases of incident asthma in children and 15 per cent of all exacerbations of childhood asthma were attributed to exposure to pollutants related to road traffic. 'Young children with asthma have long been regarded as a group who are very susceptible to adverse effects from air pollution because of their developing lungs, immature metabolic pathways, high ventilation rates per bodyweight, and increased time exercising outdoors.'

One of Britain's top Government advisors this week said the Government had 'blindly' promoting diesel cars for decades. Professor Frank Kelly, chair of the Department of Health's committee on air pollution, said ministers had gone down the 'wrong route' by encouraging drivers to switch away from petrol. He said diesel engines - championed since the 1970s because they were thought to emit less greenhouse gases - could be responsible for more than 7,000 deaths a year in Britain.

Half of the two million new cars bought each year in the UK are now diesel, up from just 14 per cent in 2000. There are nine million diesel cars on the road - more than at any time in history - and three million diesel vans. The UK is already facing £300million in European Commission fines for repeatedly failing to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide air pollution. And the Government is to come under further pressure today, when the parliamentary environment watchdog announces a new inquiry into failed efforts to tackle air pollution.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee will examine what progress has been made to tackle poor air quality since it warned about the need for urgent action on pollution in a report in 2011. MP Joan Walley, who chairs the select committee, said
  • Air pollution is thought to contribute to more deaths than passive smoking, traffic accidents or obesity, yet the UK is still breaching European safety limits nearly five years after EU fines were first threatened
  • The Environmental Audit Committee warned four years ago that an urgent policy response, greater public awareness and a shift in transport policy was required if air quality was to be improved. 
  • We will be examining what progress has been made by central and local government since then in removing the most polluting vehicles from the road and encouraging cleaner forms of transport.

Friday, May 02, 2014

80,000 Premature Deaths Annually due to the Air Pollution from the Coal-Fired Power Plants in India

In India, of the 210 GW electricity generation capacity, 66% is derived from coal, with planned additions of 76 GW and 93 GW during the 12th and the 13th five year plans, respectively.

This study is published as a peer-reviewed article in the journal of Atmospheric Environment

Atmospheric emissions from the coal-fired power plants are responsible for a large burden on human health. In 2010-11, 111 plants with an installed capacity of 121 GW, consumed 503 million tons of coal, and generated an estimated 580 ktons of particulates with diameter less than 2.5 μm (PM2.5), 2100 ktons of sulfur dioxides, 2000 ktons of nitrogen oxides, 1100 ktons of carbon monoxide, 100 ktons of volatile organic compounds, and 665 million tons of carbon dioxide. These emissions resulted in an estimated 80,000 to 115,000 premature deaths and 20.0 million asthma cases from exposure to PM2.5 pollution, which cost the public and the government an estimated INR 16,000 to 23,000 crores (USD 3.2 to 4.6 billion).

See pollution analysis and animations
Word Cloud of the Journal Article

The analysis shows that aggressive pollution control regulations such as mandating flue gas desulfurization, introduction and tightening of emission standards for all criteria pollutants, and updating procedures for environment impact assessments, are imperative for regional clean air and to reduce health impacts. For example, a mandate for installation of flue gas desulfurization systems for the operational 111 plants could reduce the PM2.5 concentrations by 30-40% by eliminating the formation of the secondary sulfates and nitrates.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Infographic - Air Pollution in London

A blend of local and European emissions, combined with dust blown in from the Sahara, led DEFRA to issue its highest level of pollution warning – 10 – to parts of London, the South East and the Midlands. Today, this is a rare occurrence. Over the last 10 years, there have been just 59 days when such a high reading has been recorded. 93% of daily pollution figures across the country register as being low to moderate and, even in London, the average daily pollution level just edges into the moderate category at 3.4.

Read more @ UK Metro

California's Metros are the Most Polluted US Cities in 2014

Citizens of California, take out your Kleenex and hack up some phlegm in victory! Your state has once again beat out the rest of the nation in sheer quantities of air pollution, according to new report from the American Lung Association.
In the broad view, the country is still suffering from dismal levels of pollution, says the ALA in its "State of the Air 2014." (The report actually covers 2010 to 2012, for what it's worth.) More than 147 million people, or roughly half the nation, lives in places with unhealthy concentrations of ozone or particulate pollution. Fifty-three million others reside in areas that the association has slapped with a most troublesome "F grade" for pollution.

State of the Air 2014

The health implications of this coast-to-coast blanketing of foulness are hard to overstate. Such pollution is tied to a wheezing horde of ailments, from asthma attacks to heart disease to premature deaths. Last year, the World Health Organization announced that airborne contaminants are causing lung cancer, and deemed outdoors air the "most widespread environmental carcinogen" in existence. And of course at greatest risk of air pollution's withering touch are society's most vulnerable: the elderly, children, and people with low incomes.
  • Nearly half of the people in the United States (147.6 million) live in counties with unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution.
  • More than 27.8 million people (8.9%) in the United States live in 17 counties with unhealthful levels of all pollutants measured in the report. 
  • Twenty-two of the 25 most ozone-polluted cities in the 2014 report – including Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago – had more high ozone days on average when compared to the 2013 report.
  • Thirteen of the 25 cities with the worst year-round particle pollution reached their lowest levels yet, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Bakersfield.

Some more bad news: Levels of ozone have gone up in the United States since the association's last report covering 2009 to 2011. That fact can be attributed to the past years' number of warm summers. Los Angeles, Houston, the Washington-Baltimore area, New York and other major cities logged worse ozone problems and, in a twist, they're likely to have even poorer conditions if climate trends continue on their torrid course. "We know that warmer temperatures increase risk for ozone pollution," says ALA president Harold Wimmer, "so climate change sets the stage for tougher challenges to protect human health."

Read more @ Atlantic Cities

You May be Addicted to Your Car

The habit of car dependency, in particular, poses a major problem for sustainable cities. In short, we have very fixed travel habits.

Even for urban households with both a car and transit options, how people get to work in the morning doesn't feel like a "choice." Economists aside, few of us sit down and calculate the differential cost of driving versus riding the bus or train. Most are lucky to have a few minutes left over for family or Internet on their way out the door.
 The habit of car dependency, in particular, poses a major problem for sustainable cities. As transportation experts push for mobility "carrots" and "sticks" — making alternative modes more attractive while making driving less attractive — they can't forget they're also battling certain aspects of the human brain that nudge us away from considering any changes to our lives at all.

A group of researchers led by Yavor Yalachkov turn to neuroscience to help explain why so many people remain stuck in their mode choice in a recent essay on science and society. Writing in Trends in Cognitive Science, Yalachkov and company survey the latest evidence on habit development in light of car dependency. Much of it comes as no surprise: habits are triggered automatically by learning associations in our environment. We wake up in the morning, we head to the car.

The greater insight recently drawn by cognitive scientists is that a shift in brain activity occurs to facilitate our routines. Rather than use the parts of our brain that evaluate a decision — in short, rather than engage in a true "choice" — we rely in these habitual moments on neural regions that perform an action without much concern for outcome.

Read more @ Atlantic Cities