Thursday, November 27, 2014

WHO Recommends Guidelines for Indoor Air Pollution

WHO recommendations, released today, highlight the dangers of burning fuels like unprocessed coal and kerosene in the home, and set targets for reducing emissions of health-damaging pollutants from domestic cookstoves, space heaters and fuel-based lamps.

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

The new "WHO guidelines for indoor air quality: household fuel combustion" stress the need to improve access to cleaner home energy sources such as liquefied petroleum gas, biogas, natural gas and ethanol, or electricity, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. These new guidelines come after WHO findings earlier this year revealed that more than 7 million deaths – one in eight of total global deaths – are due to indoor or outdoor air pollution exposure. According to the estimates, some 4.3 million people worldwide die every year from household air pollution emitted by rudimentary biomass and coal cookstoves.

The guidelines include emissions targets for different kinds of domestic appliances, for both carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter. The targets are the result of years of review of the health impacts of household air pollution emissions and careful examination of the levels by which emissions would have to be reduced in order to meet WHO guidelines for air quality.

National Biomass Cookstoves Program

The new guidelines recommend halting the use of unprocessed coal as a household fuel. Coal contains toxic elements such as arsenic, lead and mercury. The incomplete combustion of coal in inefficient stoves and space heaters can lead to severe illness and premature death. The use of kerosene as a household fuel is also discouraged amid concerns around its adverse impact on air quality and safety. Kerosene is also associated with burns, fires and poisoning.

In homes with open-burning and unvented coal or biomass stoves, emissions of particulate matter and other pollutants can be 100 times higher than WHO-recommended levels. Such pollutants are carcinogenic and cause heart and lung disease through impairing immune response, reducing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, causing systemic inflammation and ischemia, among other physiological disturbances.

In order to meet the new targets, there needs to be rapid scale-up in access to cleaner and more modern cooking and heating appliances, as well as lamps, in developing country homes, says Dr Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The State of Climate - TED Talk by Nicholas Stern

How can we begin to address the global, insidious problem of climate change — a problem that’s too big for any one country to solve? Economist Nicholas Stern lays out a plan, presented to the UN’s Climate Summit in 2014, showing how the world’s countries can work together on climate. It’s a big vision for cooperation, with a payoff that goes far beyond averting disaster. He asks: How can we use this crisis to spur better lives for all?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Tackle air pollution to kickstart climate action

Carbon Brief - Air pollution is a huge problem worldwide, killing millions of people each year. Further warming will only increase the size of the problem, according to a Nature article today. It's time efforts to curb soot, ozone and other pollutants in the atmosphere got more attention at an international level, the researchers argue. Getting serious about air pollution could provide the impetus needed to tackle climate change more effectively.

Methane, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and soot (or black carbon) all contribute to poor air quality. Air pollution is already the leading environmental cause of ill-health, leading to about seven million premature deaths each year from respiratory and circulatory illnesses. Earlier today, the European Council ruled the UK must take urgent action to address dangerous levels of air pollution. A number of major cities, including London, are lagging behind targets to reduce nitrogen dioxide to legal limits by the January 2015 deadline. The burden of ill-health is likely to increase in cities by mid century, as air pollution interacts with further greenhouse gas warming, research shows.

Tackling both at once could reap benefits, the paper explains. For example, electric cars powered from renewable sources curb air pollution in the short term, and reduce demand for carbon-intensive fuel. This kind of joined up thinking could avoid legislation in one area cancelling out progress in the other. The paper warns that some strategies to cut carbon emissions could worsen air pollution, and vice versa.

Air Pollution News & Alerts - November 21st, 2014

Times of India, November 21st, 2014
Leaves burnt in Delhi despite ban.

The Australian, November 21st, 2014
China needs to speed up work on coal-fired carbon capture projects.

Environment Health News, November 21st, 2014
Coal's black wind: Pregnant women in parts of India advised to stay away.

First Post, November 21st, 2014
One lakh deaths due to pollution, India needs to be energy efficient.

China Daily, November 21st, 2014
Cookstove technology key in fighting pollution.

Click Green, November 21st, 2014
Millions of city residents still exposed to dangerous air pollution levels.

AZ News, November 21st, 2014
4.1% of Azerbaijan’s power generation is not commercially important, while generation of traded power exceeds total power generation.

Global Times, November 20th, 2014
‘APEC blue’ ends, air pollution returns to Beijing.

Times of India, November 20th, 2014
Flights to Agra from Mumbai, Delhi to stop?

Climate Progress, November 20th, 2014How EPA Could Cut National Methane Leaks Almost In Half.

Hindustan Times, November 20th, 2014
Better air and transport are UN goals for 2030.

The Hindu, November 20th, 2014
Many city schools, colleges evince interest in solar power generation.

Wired, November 19th, 2014
This Wearable Detects Pollution to Build Air Quality Maps in Real Time.

Carbon Brief, November 19th, 2014
Tackle air pollution to kickstart climate action.

Nature, November 19th, 2014
Air pollution: Clean up our skies.

Phys.Org, November 19th, 2014
EU court says Britain must cut air pollution.

Times of India, November 19th, 2014
Global index calls city air hazardous.

Platts Energy Week, November 19th, 2014
China Seen to be Leader in Clean-Coal Technology.

The Grist, November 19th, 2014
These photos of China’s toxic smog are terrifying.

Times of India, November 19th, 2014
Govt told to take 3 steps to fight winter smog.

Times of India, November 19th, 2014
Respiratory illnesses in city spike with pollution.

Tribune, November 19th, 2014
KPT told to minimise air pollution at coal terminal.

NPR, November 19th, 2014
WATCH: How Carbon Dioxide Travels Around The Globe.

Energy Central, November 19th, 2014
GE signs clean energy agreements in China.

World Coal, November 19th, 2014
India looks to open coalbed methane market to private players.

The Guardian, November 19th, 2014
CO2 emissions must be zero by 2070 to prevent climate disaster.

Climate Progress, November 19th, 2014
China To Cap Coal Use By 2020 To Meet Game-Changing Climate, Air Pollution Targets.

CNBC, November 19th, 2014
How China can tackle air pollution.

Phys.Org, November 19th, 2014
European urbanites breathing highly polluted air.

The Guardian, November 19th, 2014
EU court rules UK government must clean up dangerous air pollution.

Jerusaleum Post, November 19th, 2014
Air pollution in Israel dropped significantly from 2012-2013.

Liberty Voices, November 19th, 2014
Blue Skies Over Beijing.

Times of India, November 18th, 2014
Breathe free in Nagpur, but shut your ears.

Air Quality News, November 18th, 2014
‘Worrisome’ increase in global shipping traffic.

Eco-Business, November 18th, 2014
Coal-run thermal power plant slated for Soc Trang province.

Economic Times, November 18th, 2014
Inter-Ministerial panel on coal linkages to meet next week.

Azer News, November 18th, 2014
Azerbaijan increasing electricity production.

Shanghai Daily, November 18th, 2014
China’s coal use may peak around 2020.

The Hindu, November 18th, 2014
Find viable means to cut down vehicular pollution.

Deccan Herald, November 18th, 2014
Cut air pollution, else face food shortage.

India Education Dairy, November 18th, 2014
New report reveals air pollution could rise drastically; outlines roadmap to devise models to curb emissions.

Energy Central, November 18th, 2014
China Said to Cancel Tariffs on Coal Imports from Australia.

Manila Today, November 18th, 2014
PH coal enough to power plants.

Reuters, November 18th, 2014
Brazil carbon emissions rise for the first time since 2004 -report.

Tech in Asia, November 18th, 2014
In China, even creating a pollution tracking app is a risky business.

The Guardian, November 18th, 2014
District heating: a hot idea whose time has come.

The Guardian, November 18th, 2014
The Green Climate Fund is not a charity but an investment in our shared future.

NPR, November 17th, 2014
To End Food Waste, Change Needs To Begin At Home.

NRL, November 17th, 2014
With Electron Beams, NRL to Clean Up NOx Emissions from Coal Power Plant.

Times of India, November 15th, 2014
Hospitals flout pollution norms in Bhubaneswar.

India Today, November 15th, 2014
Crop burning brings hazy weather in Delhi.

The Diplomat, November 14th, 2014
Beijing Smog: The Day After ‘APEC Blue’.

Center for Effective Government, November 14th, 2014
EPA’s War on Toxic Pollution.

Fast Co-Exist, November 14th, 2014
China’s Air Pollution Solution.

On Earth, November 14th, 2014
The Particulars of PM 2.5., November 14th, 2014
Lessons from China for the rest of us.

NPR, November 14th, 2014
Climate Change To Make Lightning More Common.

Science Daily, November 13th, 2014
EPA's Clean Power Plan: Economic strengths, weaknesses.

NPR, November13th, 2014
Climate Change Deal Requires U.S., China To Overhaul Energy Use.

Baltic Course, November 13th, 2014
Lithuania's 60% electricity consumption will be imported in winter.

RE Economy, November 13th, 2014
India’s plan to stop importing coal deals another blow to Australia.

Weather.Com, November 13th, 2014
New Delhi's Air Pollution Rockets to Worst in the World.

Times of India, November 12th, 2014
Report warns of spiralling air pollution; outlines roadmap to curb emissions.

Foreign Policy, November 12th, 2014
Why Is Beijing Downplaying the Supposedly Huge Climate Change Deal?

The World Bank, November 12th, 2014
Program Helps Reduce Energy Bills, Protect the Environment in China.

Power Engineering, November 12th, 2014
European power plant services market to hit $5.4bn.

NPR, November 12th, 2014
For U.S.-China Deal On Greenhouse Gases, The Devil Is In The Details.

NPR, November 12th, 2014
40 Percent Of The World's Cropland Is In Or Near Cities.

Mining Weekly, November 11th, 2014
India turns down coal reject supply linkages to power plants.

Huffington Post, November 11th, 2014
New Roads Are Not the Way Forward.

Bangkok Post, November 11th, 2014
China censors US embassy pollution data during APEC.

NDTV, November 11th, 2014
Air Pollution Set to Rise Drastically in Indian Cities.

Deccan Chronicle, November 11th, 2014
Indoor air pollution can trigger asthma and allergies.

Take Part, November 11th, 2014
Pollution's So Bad in China That Oxygen Masks Are Hitting the Runway.

Power Engineering, November 11th, 2014
India pledges 24-hour electricity to all by 2019.

World Coal, November 11th, 2014
Regional Report – Turkey: Turkish delight.

Indian Express, November 11th, 2014
Delhi Underground: Stuck in traffic.

Times of India, November 10th, 2014
Smog scare: Patients told to stay indoors.

Energy Central, November 10th, 2014
Algae Biomass Organization Expands Carbon Utilization Campaign.

Hindustan Times, November 10th, 2014
Airpocalypse Now: Vehicular pollution soars to worrying levels.

Indian Express, November 10th, 2014
Visit thermal plants, learn about hazards workers face: Bombay HC to law students.

IEA, November 10th, 2014
Asia coal-fired capacity to more than double by 2035 boosting coal import demand.

LA Times, November 10th, 2014
Heat, drought worsen smog in California, stalling decades of progress.

Doha News, November 10th, 2014
Qatar’s air pollution unacceptably high 44 percent of the year.

Power Engineering, November 10th, 2014DOE invests in coal gasification research.

Energy Central, November 10th, 2014
China rolls out measures to lift sagging coal industry.

Nekkei Asian Review, November 10th, 2014
Europe cashing in on Middle East's ambitious railway projects.

Hindustan Times, November 9th, 2014
Public transport should woo car users towards mass transportation.

The Hindu, November 7th, 2014
Blinded by Dust in Chennai.

Business Standard, November 7th, 2014
For cleaner skies - Climate-change report shows domestic action more urgent.

NRDC Switchboard, November 7th, 2014
China & US Making Progress on Climate Change, Now It's Time for More.

New York Times, November 7th, 2014
China to Punish Those Responsible for Pollution Levels in Beijing.

The new Yorker, November 7th, 2014
In Beijing, Clearer Views Hide Real Life., November 7th, 2014
This NASA image explains why it's getting difficult to breathe in Delhi.

Times of India, November 6th, 2014
Delhi gasps as neighbours burn waste.

NDTV, November 6th, 2014
Pollution in Delhi Four Times Higher Than Normal.

Business Standard, November 6th, 2014
Air quality monitoring stations to be installed.

Eco News, November 6th, 2014
Quarry Fined for Clean Air Violations.

Act Media, November 6th, 2014
Romania needs electricity produced in thermal power plants.

China Daily, November 6th, 2014
Mobile app to fight smog near Beijing.

Christian Science Monitor, November 6th, 2014
Under blue skies, Beijing rolls out a red carpet for APEC Summit.

The Hindu, November 6th, 2014
Garbage: notices to 15,000 bulk generators.

Science Daily, November 6th, 2014
Future air quality could put plants, people at risk.

Hindustan Times, November 5th, 2014
Scientists rubbish study saying air pollution can reduce wheat yield by 50%.

ECNS, November 5th, 2014
Fallen leaves can cause air pollution.

South China Morning Post, November 5th, 2014
670,000 smog-related deaths a year: the cost of China's reliance on coal.

The Hindu, November 5th, 2014
Pollution chokes the Capital as respiratory diseases rise.

The Economic Times, November 4th, 2014
Power shortfall in India comparatively lower despite paucity of coal.

Bangkok Post, November 4th, 2014
Beijing stamps out funeral fashion fires for APEC.

Economic Times, November 4th, 2014
Air pollution in India cuts wheat yields by half.

Tech Times, November 4th, 2014
Protective masks make fashion statements in polluted Chinese cities.

The Hindu, November 4th, 2014
Mangalore to get two air quality monitoring stations.

The Guardian, November 4th, 2014
Coal is the future, insists Tony Abbott as UN calls for action on climate change.

Dhaka Tribune, November 4th, 2014
Health and life of children at risk.

First Post, November 3rd, 2014
Close to 60% thermal power plants have coal stock for less than a week.

Times of India, November 3rd, 2014
CSE organizes workshop on clean air and transport.

Press TV, November 3rd, 2014
New Delhi air pollution reaches alarming levels.

Hindustan Times, November 3rd, 2014
Smog alerts will help Delhi fight pollution.

Voice of America, November 3rd, 2014
Better Street Lighting Lowers Carbon Emission.

Scientific American, November 3rd, 2014
Air Pollution in Smokers’ Homes Can Reach Outdoor Levels in Worst Cities.

The World Bank, November 3rd, 2014
Cleaner Cook Stoves for a Healthier Indonesia.

The Guardian, November 3rd, 2014
India air pollution 'cutting crop yields by almost half'.

Sunday's Zaman, November 2nd, 2014
Choking in the darkness of coal in Turkey.

The Atlantic, November 2nd, 2014
China Is Trying to Curb Its Smog Problem (Before the World Comes for a Visit).

Al Jazeera, November 2nd, 2014
Clearing Beijing's air pollution.

Clean Technica, November 2nd, 2014
Improving & Increasing Mass Transit With Wi-Fi.

NPR, November 2nd, 2014
U.N.: End Greenhouse Emissions By 2100 Or Risk 'Irreversible' Damage.

Hindustan Times, November 1st, 2014
Raipur, Gwalior far more polluted than Delhi.

ECNS, October 31st, 2014
Local pollutant more responsible for Beijing's smog., October 31st, 2014
Know how much air pollution you’re breathing in with AirBeam.

Peoples Daily, October 31st, 2014
China gets tough to combat pollution.

Times of India, October 31st, 2014
Haze in Delhi due to agri-waste burning.

Shanghai Daily, October 30th, 2014
Helicopters trace straw-burning farmers.

Pattaya Mail, October 30th, 2014
Thai energy minister adamant for more coal-fired power plants.

USA Today, October 30th, 2014
'Black cloud' leaves Egyptians short of breath.

India Today, October 30th, 2014
National Green Tribunal worried over rising pollution in Delhi.

Environmental Technology, October 30th, 2014
How to Monitor for Fracking Air Pollution.

Times of India, October 30th, 2014
Delhi’s air very unhealthy: US embassy monitor.

Huffington Post, October 30th, 2014
China's New Tools to Battle Air Pollution Can Also Help Fight Climate Change.

Wall Street Journal, October 29th, 2014
Pollution in Delhi Prompts U.S. Embassy Warning.

Times of India, October 28th, 2014
Respiratory ailments on the rise in Pune.

Live Science, October 28th, 2014
China Won't Breathe Easy Until Port Pollution Solved.

The Diplotmat, October 27th, 2014
Taking the Leap on China’s Pollution Problem.

The Wall Street Journal, October 27th, 2014
Desperate Measures: As World Leaders Visit, Beijing Tries to Reduce Pollution by 40%.

Economic Times, October 27th, 2014
Coal Ordinance: Experts doubt if it will be a lasting solution for the troubled sector.

Phys.Org, October 27th, 2014
Delhi chokes on toxic smog after festival of lights.

Science Daily, October 27th, 2014
Reducing population is no environmental 'quick fix'.

Hindustan Times, October 27th, 2014
Air pollution levels highest in Mumbai on last day of Diwali.

The Hindu, October 27th, 2014
Right pricing petrol & diesel.

Mining Weekly, October 27th, 2014
Underground coal gasification roadmap on the way.

ECNS, October 26th, 2014
Beijing expects to cut pollutants discharge by 1/3 during APEC.

Auto Standard Examiner, October 26th, 2014
China encouraging citizens to buy electric vehicles.

Bangkok Post, October 26th, 2014
Delhi chokes on toxic smog after festival of lights.

Science Daily, October 25th, 2014
Climate change caused by ocean, not just atmosphere.

Economic Times, October 24th, 2014
CPCB is working to develop its standard and monitoring methodology, says AB Akolkar, member-secretary, CPCB.

Times of India, October 24th, 2014
Air quality deteriorates alarmingly in Delhi after Diwali.

Natural Gas Daily, October 23rd, 2014
China’s clean coal hopes may affect gas outlook.

Power Engineering, October 23rd, 2014
India to set uniform coal price and allow foreign companies to mine.

ECNS, October 23rd, 2014
China promotes new-energy buses in Beijing.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Year in the Life of Earth's CO2

NASA Explains - Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons.

Scientists have made ground-based measurements of carbon dioxide for decades and in July NASA launched the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite to make global, space-based carbon observations. But the simulation — the product of a new computer model that is among the highest-resolution ever created — is the first to show in such fine detail how carbon dioxide actually moves through the atmosphere.

In Chennai - 250 Asthma and COPD Cases Registered Everyday

Rising air pollution in Chennai is making more people sick with respiratory illnesses, especially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), say experts. According to data released by System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, which conducts regular air quality checks in Indian metros, Chennai ranks second in air pollution after Delhi - more @ Times of India

With World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) day being observed on November 19, chest physicians in the city have called for efforts to control pollution on a war footing. COPD is a condition that arises due to obstruction of air flow in the lungs. Patients suffer from symptoms like chronic cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and limitation of activity in the later stages.

Know more about COPD

"Recent studies show that many people, especially youngsters, are taking steps to quit smoking. So, while smoking may be a major cause of COPD, pollution is the culprit behind the rise in cases," said pulmonologist Dr G S Vijayachandar from the Institute of Thoracic Medicine in Chetpet. The institute has recorded more than 4,000 cases of respiratory illnesses in the past one year, one-third of which are COPD cases. "We see 250 cases everyday and most of them are asthma and COPD cases. The numbers have certainly gone up," said the doctor, adding that there has been a 10% increase in COPD cases compared to last year.

Dr Mohan Kameshwaran of Madras ENT Research Foundation said that 90% of the patients who approached the pulmonology clinic at the hospital suffered from dust allergy. The clinic recorded 625 cases of COPD last year and the numbers went up to 775 till November this year. "Earlier only adults had such problems, but now pediatric allergies are also on the rise and it comprises 30% of cases. Patients come with wheezing, nasal bleeding and inflammation where there is a block in the airway, all being results of inhaling soot and carbon particles emitted from vehicles," he said.

Dusty Roads in Chennai

Respiratory physician Dr P K Thomas warned that COPD is an insidious disease that shows no symptoms until it is too late. "Nearly 50% of clinically significant COPD cases go undiagnosed. When they suffer from breathlessness, people should not ignore it as a normal part of getting older. They should approach a doctor," he said.

Particulate and Gaseous Emissions Inventory for Chennai
The pollution control board has set the permissible limit for respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) at 100 microgram/cubic metre. In 2013 the annual average quantity of particulate matter recorded at Anna Nagar, T Nagar and Kilpauk were way above the standard of 100 microgram per cubic meter. "The main reasons for the presence of suspended particulate matter in the air at least in the city limits are due to the vehicular traffic, dust and sand on the roads and ongoing construction activities," said K Ranganathan, Director (Labs), Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

Bengaluru Going Solar

Educational institutions across the city plan to make hay while the sun shines as they evince interest in implementing the solar rooftop project of the Bangalore Electricity Company (Bescom) Limited. It is a grid connected programme wherein Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) Systems will be installed on rooftop, and connected to electricity grid. More @ the Hindu

Schools and colleges are expected to generate more power than other sectors taking up the project. Educational institutions stand to gain by the project as most of them consume power mostly during the day. Besides, they have enough space on the terrace where large solar panels can be installed.

Bescom Managing Director Pankaj Kumar Pandey said here on Wednesday that they had received as many as 129 applications in the period between November 10 and 18. To queries on the slow start to the project, Mr. Pandey said that institutions and organisations can voluntarily opt to enlist themselves with Bescom and generate solar power under the project. Many of them were trying to seek clarifications before deciding to invest. According to him, south and east Bengaluru will benefit significantly from solar power generation as the existing overload will be supplemented.

According to Bescom authorities, four applicants have been granted permission to start power generation, and the solar panels have been installed and commissioned. Those implementing the project will be billed based on the quantity of power generated and consumed. Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission has fixed the tariff at Rs. 9.56 a unit for non-subsidised plants, and Rs.7.20 a unit for plants that have got 30 per cent government subsidy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Real Time Pollution Mapping Using Wearable Instruments

Earlier this year, Beijing’s concentration of PM 2.5 particles—those fine enough to penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream—reached 505 micrograms per cubic meter, and the World Health Organization recommends a safe level of 25. Forty percent of global air pollution-related deaths—1.2 million in total—have been linked to PM-2.5 pollution in China, according a 2013 WHO report.

This means it’s vitally important that the Chinese keep a close eye on the quality of the air around them. But reliable data can be difficult to come by. Just last week, when several major heads of state met for an important regional summit in Beijing, the government reportedly blocked air pollution data provided by the U.S. Embassy from being displayed on local smartphone apps and websites.

It’s no small problem, and David Lu aims to solve it. Together with seven other students at the University of California, Berkeley, Lu recently created a new kind of air pollution sensor dubbed Clarity. This keychain-sized gadget lets you constantly track your personal exposure to air pollution via a smartphone app. But it’s also a way of crowdsourcing much broader studies on air quality—not only across China but throughout other parts of the world as well.

Basically, Lu and company will pool data from everyone wearing the device, and when enough of these gadgets are deployed, Lu says, they can feed pollution maps of any city. “Our mission,” Lu says, “is to empower people to collect information about their environment and take care of their environment.”

The effort is part of a larger movement to address environmental problems using the power and flexibility of internet-connected sensing devices. In the past, this included such gadgets as WNYC’s cicada tracker and Air Quality Egg. But the advent of the smartphone—and the new breed of wearable technology that connects to these phones—has unchained these types of sensors. As Lu strives to monitor air pollution in other parts of the globe, a new wearable called AirBeam aims to do much the same thing here in the U.S.

Read more @ the Wired 

BAQ 2014 is Now Open !!

The 2014 Integrated Conference of Better Air Quality (BAQ) and the 8th Intergovernmental Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum is the biggest gathering yet of clean air and sustainable transport advocates working towards more liveable cities in the region.

More than 1,000 delegates from 50 countries are coming to Colombo to attend the three day conference from 19 to 21 November 2014. The event takes place at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike International Convention Centre. This year’s conference theme is Next Generation Solutions for Clean Air and Sustainable Transport - Towards a Livable Society in Asia.”

Organized by Clean Air Asia, the United Nations (UN) Center for Regional Development, and the Sri Lanka government, the high policy forum will help provide leaders with a strategic platform to discuss air pollution, transport, and climate change solutions across Asia.

According to the World Health Organization 7 out of 10 cities have unhealthy levels of air pollution, exposing residents to significant public health risk. In Colombo, the transport sector alone accounts for 60 percent of the country’s air pollution as the country doubled its vehicles to 4.2 million in just two decades, says Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksam, this year’s guest of honor.
Meanwhile, Mr. Nikhil Seth, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) is delivering the plenary keynote address. “The bottom line on air pollution is that it has become the world’s single most dangerous environmental and health risk. It is upon us to reverse this trend of negative health impacts.

Monday, November 17, 2014

PM2.5 Across the World !!

Delhi has the most polluted air on earth. The World Health Organization reports that the Indian capital records an average PM 2.5 reading of 153. That’s nearly triple the level in Beijing—no slouch when it comes to smog—and more than ten times the average in New York City.

More @ On Earth

Even those depressing statistics, however, understate the problem in Delhi, where polluters lie about their emissions, and poorly calibrated air monitors systematically underreport PM 2.5 levels by approximately one-half. That said, earlier this week one Delhi neighborhood measured a PM 2.5 reading of 580.

While I can’t clear the air in Delhi (that’s the Indian government’s job), I can at least clear up some of this lingo. Particulate matter, or PM, is one of the primary contributors to air pollution. Any solid or liquid substance that is suspended in the air counts as particulate matter pollution. (If you want to know the most common chemical constituents of particulate matter, see page 2 of this WHO document.)

Unlike the other major air pollutants—ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide—particulate air pollution is defined by size rather than the chemicals it contains. Typically reported in micrograms per cubic meter, the smaller these particulates are, the more damage they can wreak on the human body. Which is why they’re regulated in the United States by the Clean Air Act (and why our air no longer approaches the dirtiness of China's or India's).

Epidemiologists worry about two categories of particulate matter: PM 10 and PM 2.5. The larger size, PM 10, includes particles less than 10 microns across (likewise, PM 2.5 is 2.5 microns or less across). Although particulate matter aggregates to form the ghostly haze that hangs over Delhi and other polluted cities, you can’t see individual pieces of PM 10 or PM 2.5 with the naked eye.
For the sake of comparison, most bacteria are at least five microns across. The diameter of a red blood cell is six microns. A strand of hair is around 70 microns wide. You could fit several thousand PM 2.5 particles on a period.

Road dust and tiny bits of, well, stuff sent into the air by stone processing and other crushing operations are common PM 10 pollutants. PM 2.5 comes primarily from combustion. Fireplaces, car engines, and coal- or natural gas–fired power plants are all major PM 2.5 sources. That’s why the five U.S. cities with the highest PM 2.5 levels are all in car-crazy central and southern California. Other problem cities have large coal-fired power plants (Pittsburgh) or rely heavily on wood stoves for heat (Fairbanks, Alaska).

PM 10 irritates human airways, especially among asthmatics and the elderly. These particles make your eyes burn and throat dry. Public health experts, however, are less concerned about these larger forms of particulate matter because your body’s defenses are reasonably effective against them. Tiny hairs along the respiratory tract block a portion of PM 10, you cough and sneeze some of it out, and your throat’s mucus elevator transports a fair amount back out of your mouth or harmlessly into your digestive tract.

Your body, however, isn’t as good at blocking PM 2.5. These particles are small enough to bypass your respiratory system’s defenses, getting into your lungs, where they can even penetrate the bloodstream. That’s when they cause all manner of mayhem. People who live in high PM 2.5 cities have more heart attacks, depressed lung function, worse asthma, and overall die younger than people who breathe clean air. Indices that score air pollution in cities typically give more weight to PM 2.5 than PM 10 levels.

In other words, when it comes to air pollution, size matters.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Back to Black - From the APEC Blues !!

“APEC Blue,” a term that emerged this week to describe the ephemeral skies above Beijing just before the APEC summit, vividly depicts the fa├žade that China wanted to present to the world while it hosted the 21 heads of the Asia-Pacific economies. It also brings to mind the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when the sky was a clear blue and just a handful of cars ran down empty streets amid shuttered factories in Beijing and its neighboring provinces. Beijing once again showed itself willing to spend time, energy, money, and propaganda resources to impress the world with its ability to show its very best face.

Read the full article @ the Diplomat

Comparing Particulate Pollution in Beijing and Los Angeles

Beijing not only spent $6 billion on a lakeside campus 40 miles outside Beijing, accessed by a new elevated expressway leading to the 595-room hotel, conference hall, and press center; it also took half of the cars off local roads, closed more than 1,000 heavy industrial plants within a 120-mile radius of the city, and delayed central heating services in Tianjin until the summit was over. Together with students, public sector employees enjoyed one week off during the summit. In addition, no passports were issued, no weddings were registered, no taxes were paid, no fresh products were delivered, and no banks were open. Apparently burial services were even partially suspended during APEC.

Mountain Air Supplementing Polluted Air in Beijing

Although they enjoyed the clear air, the people of Beijing have their doubts about the quick-fix model of draconian measures to improve the air quality for special occasions. It is inconvenient for locals to suspend or diminish vital public services. The partial car ban meant that public transport was even more packed than normal, which indirectly caused a young girl’s death on an overcrowded platform. People also complained that while the government is capable of creating an APEC Blue with short-term administrative measures, it is as yet incapable of longer-term fixes to pollution. The term “APEC Blue” itself, coined by Chinese netizens, is revealing of the skepticism.

China's Solution to Air Pollution Problems

China and the U.S. announced a substantial policy down payment on tackling greenhouse gas emissions in Beijing this week. Related air pollution problems in China are literally breathtaking: my eyes watered and I was coughing all week, even though the smog was less than usual because the government had ordered half the cars off the road and shut down some of the most polluting factories and power plants to “clear” the air for the APEC Summit. But is there an environmentally and economically practical way to solve these two crises now?

More @ Fast Co-Exist

Beijing is Trying to Clean Air for Another International Event (APEC)

The China Daily newspaper ran a story profiling the severity of air pollution Los Angeles and how it took 40 years of regulation and technology advances to bring it largely under control, as if to ask APEC visitors and locals alike for patience. But like many things that China does, it has the chance to fix their problems much faster, better, and cheaper by learning from another California success story: the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Beijing's Marathon Masked with Air Pollution !!

Fifteen years ago, a resident living near those ports testified at a hearing on air pollution by conducting a simple experiment. She cleaned her kitchen window ledge and wiped it with a white cloth to demonstrate it was free of any soot. An hour later, she wiped another white cloth over the ledge and it came away black. Holding up the two “before and after” rags, she and her neighbors spoke about higher rates of asthma, lung cancer, and other disease that experts confirmed were the result of toxins and fine particulate matter (“soot”) emitted from port trucks, trains, ships and smokestacks. Imagine what the lungs of those residents and port area workers looked like.

"Forbidden Zones" for Coal Use in Beijing to Cut Air Pollution

Citizens sued. Regulators got involved. Legislators pushed policies and programs to solve the problem. Collectively, they agreed on a program that has cut air pollution by more than 80% since then. Simple measures yielded results almost immediately, including covering open storage of coal/coke and other bulk materials; prohibiting excess idling of trucks; and slowing ship speeds as they approached the ports. But major fixes needed an investment in cleaner trucks, electrification of docks (so ships could turn off diesel generators), direct rail service for containers to cut truck traffic, and other infrastructure improvements to move freight faster and more efficiently. Where to find the money for all of that?

IBM Mapping Air Pollution in Beijing in Search of Effective Management

The ports imposed a fee of $35 (growing to as much a $200 over time) on each shipping container that came into the ports. Considering the value of goods in each container, the cost was a fraction of a penny per T-shirt or a few pennies on a flat screen TV, bicycle, BBQ or any of the thousands of other products imported through the ports. But collectively, on more than fourteen million containers a year, the fund grew enough to make all of those improvements very quickly and slash air pollution (and greenhouse gases that come out of the same sources) by more than 80% in five years. Residents cheered and virtually no one noticed the added cost.

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

So the lesson for China? A similar fee charged on the 150 million containers passing through its ports could quickly raise a massive investment fund. Like the ports, a combination of regulation and investment could quickly tackle the problem. Regulators could finally impose strict conditions on factories and power plants that cause the greatest pollution, but make grants and low interest loans to make it economically feasible to install scrubbers, convert to cleaner fuels, implement energy efficiency programs, and other measures that would quickly show the same results that the California ports realized. The investment would also stimulate employment and innovation, which are two things Chinese leaders also covet to maintain economic growth rates and social “harmony."

80% of Smog in Most of the Chinese Cities is Secondary in Nature - NOx Emissions Key

The APEC Summit, which was designed by China to showcase their growing pride and strength, also promoted free trade around the Pacific. If China seizes the opportunity to learn from the ports on the other side of their most valuable trade route, they can boost their economy, improve public health, and help to solve the world’s most pressing environmental issues all at once—achievements well worth bragging about on the global stage in the future.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Dusty Roads in Chennai

Every year, after the rains, motorists in the city have to battle two problems: potholes and dust-filled roads. In a city which has more than 350 km of bus route roads managed by the Chennai Corporation, cleaning of roads is one area that remains neglected. A few arterial roads, including Anna Salai and Poonamallee High Road, are maintained by the State highways department. More @ the Hindu

T. Gunaseelan, who commutes by two-wheeler from Ambattur to his office on Anna Salai, finds the combination of exhaust fumes from poorly-maintained buses and mud debris from rain-damaged roads unbearable. It could also pose various health hazards, apart from the risk of accidents caused due to irritation in the eye and vision problems.

In his post on the Friends of Chennai (FOC) website, a social initiative by The Hindu, Mr. Gunaseelan says, several roads such as Mayor Kabalamurthy Salai, Velachery Main Road, Suryanarayana Road in Royapuram, Tiruvottiyur High Road, P.T. Rajan Salai, Anna Salai and C.T.H. Road have turned into dust bowls, thanks to the inaction on the part of the civic body in removing mud from roads.

Anand Balan R., a resident of Karayanchavadi, says he suffers from breathing problems, driving frequently between Porur and New Avadi Road. He faults the Corporation authorities for not bringing in a system, similar to conservancy operations, to clean arterial roads. Alston Daril, in his post on the FOC site, says bikers wearing white shirts have little chance of reaching their workplace without being covered in black exhaust fumes and dust. 

A senior official of the civic body says there is no separate department to take care of cleaning roads, especially bus routes, and it is the responsibility of local officials in the 15 zones to clean roads in their divisions.

Fires in Punjab Spewing Pollution in Delhi (November, 2014)

Every year, the northern state of Punjab collectively burns between seven and eight million tons of plant debris from its rice farms. The plumes of smoke that rise from the paddy fires have a lingering effect on the nearby Union Territory of Delhi. The fumes are so significant that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the United States took notice of the phenomenon a while ago and started releasing annual photos of the fires over the millions of hectares of agricultural fields in Punjab. More @

Agricultural Waste Burning in Central India

“The Indian state of Punjab has two growing seasons: one from May to September and another from November to April," NASA said. "Many Punjab farmers rotate between crops, planting rice in May and wheat in November. In order to quickly prepare their fields for the wheat crop, many farmers simply burn leftover plant debris in late-October and November after harvesting rice. The practice is known as paddy stubble burning.”

15yr High for Air Quality Index in Singapore - Worsening due to Forest Fires in Indonesia

When NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer’s aqua-satellite passed over Punjab, it captured the thick blanket of fog lying just south of Punjab in Delhi.

NASA Links Urban Population to Urban Air Pollution

The image was taken on October 31 and the large area covered by the red dots is where the burning was taking place. Along with the fire, one can see a layer of aerosols, which include smoke, haze, dust and particulate air pollutants. Officials of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee officials along with scientists at System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research Centre have said that such burning is adding to Delhi's local pollution load.

Dust Storms, Fires, & Haze Pollution in Asia

“Pollution doesn't have boundaries," Anumita Roy Chowdhury of the Centre for Science and Environment told The Economic Times. "All states need to act together."

The Punjab fires will only compound the smoggy conditions that Delhi is experiencing early in the mornings these days, and air pollution is only going to increase in the coming weeks.

Crop burning is already illegal in most states in India, including  Punjab, and violators are supposed to be booked under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.

Garbage in Bengaluru

Around 15,000 bulk generators, including hotels, apartments and business establishments who have failed to process the waste they generate, have been identified and the BBMP has issued notices to them, stated Mayor N. Shanthakumari.

115,000 MT of Solid Waste are Generated Every Day in India

With the deadline to stop dumping garbage at Mandur landfills drawing close, she urged citizens to segregate waste at source. After chairing a meeting with senior BBMP officials on Thursday, she told reporters that zonal commissioners had been directed to ensure that garbage is segregated in all wards and that is not mixed by contractors.

Zero-Waste to Landfills in Pune by 2015

The BBMP is committed to ensuring that garbage is not sent to Mandur from December 1. Already, the quantum of waste has reduced from 1,600 tonnes per day to around 650 tonnes. Garbage is now being sent to KCDC in Kudlu, Bingipura and Doddaballapura. New waste processing units at Doddaballapura, Lingadeeranahalli, Doddabidarakallu, Seegehalli, Subbarayanapalya and Kannahalli would be ready in two months.

Open Waste Burning Causing Pollution Problems in NOIDA

Trash Trail - Walk Through the Garbage of Bangalore

Garbage Burning Worsening Air Pollution Worldwide

Indian TV Show "Satyamev Jayate" Launches Campaign on Waste Burning in South Delhi

Composting Wet Household Waste for Green Surroundings !!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Beijing is Trying to Clean Air for Another International Event (APEC)

Later this week several major heads of state—including President Obama and Vladimir Putin—will arrive in Beijing to participate in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), to be held in the Chinese capital from November 7-12. In advance of the summit, Beijing constructed a hotel, villas, a new international convention center, and a highway linking the convention center to the city.
There's only one more thing that the Chinese government needs to do: provide clean air. Read more @ the Atlantic

Beijing's Marathon Masked with Air Pollution !!

In a city famous for terrible air pollution, smog-free days are never a given. But that hasn't stopped China from trying. The government has ordered a halt to heavy industry within a 124-mile radius of the capital, a region encompassing the heart of China's vast steel production industry.

Comparing Particulate Pollution in Beijing and Los Angeles

(Hebei, the province surrounding Beijing, produces more steel each year than the entire European Union.) The Beijing municipal government has granted most city residents a holiday during the summit and strongly encouraged them to leave town. Those who stay face restrictions in using their cars.

Curbing Coal Consumption in Beijing

Although China suffers from a number of environmental problems, air pollution is a particular source of embarrassment for the ruling Communist Party. Heavy smog during the city's annual marathon last month caused runners to don face masks, which then featured prominently in a China Fashion Week collection.

Congestion Pricing Could Work for Beijing (EMBARQ)

Air pollution is also blamed for a decline in China's tourism industry. Visitors to China fell 2.5 percent in 2013.

IBM Mapping Air Pollution in Beijing in Search of Effective Management

Aesthetics aside, air pollution has severe consequences for China's population. The World Health Organization has linked more than 1.2 million premature deaths in China to pollution from PM2.5, a thin particulate matter measured in Beijing's air. According to ThinkProgress, 40 percent of global air pollution deaths are in China, which has roughly 20 percent of the world's population.

2014 Global Cities Index - Beijing @ No.8 and Delhi @ No.57

Government attempts to halt smog are not new in China, and in the past they've worked: The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing took place under mainly clear skies following measures to suspend industry and reduce car travel. But China is still far from finding a balance between clean air and breakneck economic growth.

Mountain Air Supplementing Polluted Air in Beijing

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Lets Prepare for a New Climate - TED Talk by Vicki Arroyo

As Vicki Arroyo says, it's time to prepare our homes and cities for our changing climate, with its increased risk of flooding, drought and uncertainty. She illustrates this inspiring talk with bold projects from cities all over the world — local examples of thinking ahead.


Dancing Zebra's in La Paz

The streets of La Paz, Bolivia present severe risks for pedestrians. The country’s capital faces rising demand for cars, and has inadequate traffic signs and universally accessible pedestrian infrastructure. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the traffic fatality rate in La Paz is 12 deaths per 100,000 people, with 36% of these deaths involving pedestrians. However, the city also created one of the most innovative pedestrian-safety strategies, which saves lives while adding to the city’s character: dancing traffic safety zebras. As part of a broader program to hire at-risk youth for city improvement jobs, the city employs hundreds of 15 to 22 year olds who dress in full costume and are trained in street performance. These zebras jump and dance to direct cars to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.

More @ the City Fix  and the Guardian

Air Quality in Hong Kong 2013

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) today (October 31) released the "Air Quality in Hong Kong 2013" report.

Fake Backdrop of Clean and Blue Skys in Hong Kong

The report summarizes air quality data collected in 2013 by the EPD's monitoring network, which comprises 11 general and three roadside air monitoring stations. The network monitors various air pollutants, namely sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), total suspended particulates (TSP), respirable suspended particulates (RSP or PM10), fine suspended particulates (FSP or PM2.5), lead and toxic air pollutants.

A 3-D Noise Map of Hong Kong Island

The spokesman stressed that Hong Kong's air quality policies are premised on the protection of public health and the Government is committed to improving air quality. The Environment Bureau released "A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong" in March 2013, which outlines comprehensively the challenges Hong Kong is facing with regard to air quality as well as the relevant policies, measures and plans to tackle the problem. The Plan also gives a detailed account of improvement measures undertaken to tackle air pollution from land and sea transport, power plants and non-road mobile machinery and seeks to further strengthen collaboration between Guangdong and Hong Kong to deal with regional pollution.

Air Pollution in Hong Kong - November, 2012

The "Air Quality in Hong Kong 2013" report is available at

Local Sources are More Responsible for Air Pollution in Beijing

Most air pollution in Beijing is actually the result of local emissions of pollutants, which accounted for 64-72 percent of the smog in the Chinese capital last year, according to the latest research from the city's environmental protection agency.

More @ ECNS

Automobile traffic, coal consumption, industrial production and dust were the main sources of the PM2.5 that reduced the air quality in Beijing; they respectively contributed 31.1 percent, 22.4 percent, 18.1 percent and 14.3 percent of the hazardous particles discharged into the city's air. Restaurants, auto repair shops, livestock breeding facilities and building construction and renovation are responsible for the remaining 14.1 percent of PM2.5 discharge.

As for the composition of PM2.5, organic matter (OM), nitrates (NO3-), sulfates (SO42-), crustal elements and ammonium salts (NH4+) took up the largest shares, respectively contributing 26 percent, 17 percent, 16 percent, 12 percent and 11 percent of the total mass of PM2.5 in Beijing's air. The research also showed that secondary particles, i.e., particles formed by gaseous pollutants, accounted for 70 percent of all PM2.5 concentration, and were the primary reason for occasional heavy air pollution.

Automobiles also contributed considerably to the city's soaring PM2.5 readings. Apart from directly emitting polluting elements, vehicles also served as "blenders," stirring up dust in city streets.
Since cross-region transfer still constituted 28-36 percent of the PM2.5 mass concentration in Beijing, the research report urged joint efforts with Beijing's neighboring Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province to reduce the region's overall emissions of pollutants.