Saturday, January 31, 2015

Air Pollution News & Alerts - January 31st, 2015

Indian Express, January 31st, 2015
Asthma: The Pollution Contagion.

Times of India, January 31st, 2015
‘Green tax’ on vehicles older than 15 yrs.

Dhaka Tribune, January 30th, 2015
The true cost of cars., January 30th, 2015
Delhi Birds: Aerial views of the national capital, through smog and sunshine.

Business Standard, January 30th, 2015
Give fresh contracts for express corridors around Delhi, Haryana told.

The Economic Times, January 30th, 2015
Why full statehood will help tackle air pollution and let Delhi breathe better.

Clean Sheet, January 30th, 2015
A New Study Indicates That ‘Clean’ Diesels Are Actually Clean.

Mother Jones, January 30th, 2015
How China's Filthy Air Is Screwing With Our Weather.

Press TV, January 30th, 2015
New Delhi suffers from air pollution.

India Today, January 29th, 2015
Environment Ministry wants to restrict usage of private cars in Delhi.

The Huffington Post, January 29th, 2015
On Overseas Coal, Will the World Bank and U.S. Government Pass Their Own Tests?

Times of India, January 29th, 2015
COPD cases on rise due to pollution.

Washington Post, January 29th, 2015
Mr. Obama’s trip to India leaves a clear deal on curbing emissions up in the air.

The Economic Times, January 29th, 2015
India's climate change pledge won't hinder its coal output plan.

LA Times, January 29th, 2015
Beijing seeks to contain its population, and with it, problems.

CNN, January 28th, 2015
The air pollution that's choking Asia.

India Times, January 28th, 2015
OMG! New Delhi Is One Of The Most Polluted Cities In The World.

The Hindu, January 28th, 2015
Ask Delhi on doubling parking fee, MoEF to SC.

Times of India, January 27th, 2015
NGT sends notice to Agra over rise in air pollution.

European Daily Press, January 27th, 2015
U.S.-India Partnership a Step Forward for Low-Carbon Growth.

New Republic, January 27th, 2015
Obama Is Leaving India Without a Landmark Climate Deal.

Times of India, January 27th, 2015
Experts bank on US air quality alert.

The Baltic Course, January 27th, 2015
Electricity prices fall in Lithuania and Latvia due to smaller demand in January.

Desert News, January 26th, 2015
Utah residents rank air pollution as No. 1 threat to quality of life.

Times of India, January 26th, 2015
Morning drizzle spares Delhi air quality blushes.

Blommberg, January 26th, 2015
Mr. President, World’s Worst Air Is Taking 6 Hours Off Your Life.

Tribune Express, January 26th, 2015
In the dark again in Pakistan.

Financial Express, January 26th, 2015
Balance growth with climate consequences.

Hindustan Times, January 26th, 2015
When smart cities are not smart enough.

Live Mint, January 26th, 2015
The air we breathe in.

Eco Business, January 26th, 2015
Shanghai air pollution at 15 times WHO safe level.

Economic Times, January 26th, 2015
Obama in India: PM Narendra Modi, Barack Obama strike alliance on climate change; air pollution, renewable energy focus areas.

Washington Post, January 26th, 2015
What Delhi’s air pollution says about India and climate change.

Live Mint, January 26th, 2015
Lack of sufficient transmission capacities is hampering the growth of India’s electricity market.

World COal, January 26th, 2015
Coal still king in UK.

Climate Progress, January 26th, 2015
Here’s What Every Governor Thinks About Climate And Clean Energy.

Washington Post, January 26th, 2015
As Obama visits, what Delhi’s air pollution says about India and climate change.

Hindustan Times, January 25th, 2015
Obama visit: Agreement on clean, efficient energy on cards.

Deccan Chronicle, Janaury 25th, 2015
Air pollution no big threat to Barack Obama., January 25th, 2015
Despite growing health concerns, tackling haze over South-East Asia remains opaque.

The Tribune, January 25th, 2015
Power breakdown: Nationwide blackout in Pakistan.

Climate Progress, Janaury 25th, 2015
U.S. And India Announce ‘Cooperation’ On Climate Change.

Air Quality News, January 25th, 2015
City pollution toolkit produced for transport group.

LA Times, January 25th, 2015
The carbon that's killing India, and how California can help.

Albeu, Janaury 25th, 2015
Air pollution claims 1350 lives a year in Macedonia.

DNA, January 24th, 2015
NGT asks four central ministries to reduce vehicular pollution in metros.

Times of India, January 24th, 2015
Peak pollution was high even after showers in Delhi.

Times of India, January 24th, 2015
Misleading statistics can’t cut Gurgaon’s air pollution.

Business Standard, January 24th, 2015
Obama and Modi can change global climate of inaction.

The Economic Times, January 24th, 2015An Indo-US climate deal is very doable.

Times of India, January 24th, 2015
Traffic curbs may clear the air for Obama on R-Day.

Rush Lane, January 23rd, 2015
NGT ruling of removing 15 year old vehicles in Delhi scrapped.

The Guardian, January 23rd, 2015
Smog journeys: A short film about air pollution in China.

China File, January 23rd, 2015
China’s Air Pollution: The Tipping Point.

Huffington Post, Janaury 23rd, 2015
The Path to a Safe Climate Goes Through India.

Phys.Org, January 23rd, 2015
The cost of Chinese air pollution.

Bloomberg, January 22nd, 2015
Obama's About to Get a Whiff of India's Air Pollution.

India Gazette, January 22nd, 2015
In polluted Delhi, breathe 'Davos' air in this biz centre.

Quartz, janaury 22nd, 2015
A short film on the poetic sadness of China’s air pollution, by a censored director.

World Coal, January 22nd, 2015
Tower of power in Australia.

Think Progress, January 22nd, 2015
In The World’s Most Polluted City, Obama Seeks Climate Ally.

Xinhua Net, January 22nd, 2015
China vows to cut fossil fuel in painstaking energy revolution.

Power Engineering, January 21st, 2015
IEA Clean Coal Centre urges engagement rather than divestment.

Power Engineering, January 20th, 2015
Alabama carbon capture pilot-scale project begins.

The Guardian, January 20th, 2015
Beijing's smog is increasingly toxic for China's politicians.

City Metric, January 20th, 2015
Where there’s smoke: the mystery of Asia’s pollution haze.

Tufts Daily, January 20th, 2015
Tufts researchers study the hazards of highway pollution.

IBN Live, January 19th, 2015
Urban transport and climate change.

Gulf News, January 19th, 2015
UAE’s pioneering role in maintaining air quality.

Indian Express, January 19th, 2015
Latest NGT order: ban parking on Delhi roads.

Khaleej Times, January 18th, 2015
Winter sees spurt in asthma symptoms in UAE.

Economic Times, January 18th, 2015
MoEF guided by bad science, EPCA tells SC.

USA News, January 17th, 2015
Smog Solutions in China.

Times of India, January 17th, 2015
Chill & air pollutants take your breath away in Pune.

The Asian Age, January 17th, 2015
Air pollution in city worries Supreme Court.

Times of India, January 17th, 2015
U-turn by Centre in apex court on capital vehicular pollution.

Power Engineering, January 16th, 2015
GE gas-fired turbines to power TVA coal.

China Daily, January 16th, 2015
Better stoves can reduce indoor pollution.

Eco-Business, Janaury 16th, 2015
Who needs cars? Smart mobility can make cities sustainable.

ECNS, January 16th, 2015
PM2.5 analysis to help curb pollution.

The City Fix, January 15th, 2015
What will it take to create smart cities in India?

Indian Express, January 15th, 2015
Farmers Told to Set Meters on Irrigation Pump Sets.

Zee News, January 15th, 2015
Pollution: NGT orders joint inspection at steel plant.

The Tribune, January 15th, 2015
Vehicles continue to flout pollution norms in Jammu.

NPR, January 15th, 2015
New EPA Guidelines Limit Methane Release From Drilling.
 IBN Live, January 15th, 2015
Pollution a top concern for Delhiites in Assembly elections.

Times Live, January 15th, 2015
China met 2014 pollution control targets.

Indian Express, January 15th, 2015
TNPCB Advice Up in Smoke as Bhogi Propels Pollution.

Market Watch, January 15th, 2015
How much pollution can China take?

New Security Beat, January 15th, 2015
Clearing the Air: Is Natural Gas a Game Changer for Coal in China?

India TV, Janaury 15th, 2015
Delhi: 20 pc increase in air pollution in last three years.

The Gaurdian, January 14th, 2015Activists say Obama action on methane emissions 'misses 90% of pollution'.

Zee News, January 14th, 2015
Tax diesel vehicles in Delhi to check pollution.

China Daily, January 14th, 2015
Beijing in first smog alert of year.

Hindustan Times, January 13th, 2015
Back to nature: Turn your home into a healthy zone.

BBC, January 13th, 2015
India bans burning cow dung near Taj Mahal.

Global Times, January 13th, 2015
Comprehensive study on pollution sources offers some surprises.

USPRwire, January 13th, 2015
Global Air Pollution Control Market 2015-2019 - New Study Released.

FDL, January 13th, 2015Coal Use Expected To Rise In Next Few Years.

Science Daily, January 13th, 2015
Estimated social cost of climate change not accurate.

East Daily, January 13th, 2015
China to build smog-dispersing labs around Beijing.

India Gazette, January 13th, 2015
Let?s bank on the sun, not on coal.

Business Recorder, January 13th, 2015
Power sector's woes worsen.

Asia One, January 12th, 2015
Strict controls help clear the air in China.

SciDevNet, January 12th, 2015
Tracking urban India’s worsening air quality.

Hans India, January 12th, 2015
Hyderabad shivers in cold, air pollution rises.

Journalist's Resource, January 12th, 2015
China, cookstoves and highways: Effects of black carbon on human health.

Scientific America, January 12th, 2015Health and Conservation Reminders Cut Consumer Energy Use.

NPR, January 12th, 2015Iowa's Largest City Sues Over Farm Fertilizer Runoff In Rivers.

Energy Central, January 12th, 2015
Another coal plant to rise in Zambales.

World Coal, January 12th, 2015
Green Dragon Gas seeks funding for coalbed methane project.

Science Daily, January 12th, 2015
Rainfall can release aerosols.

The Guardian, January 12th, 2015How the world burns: fuel consumption compared.

The Atlantic, January 11th, 2015
The Unique Misery of Flying in China.

The Hindu, January 11th, 2015
China Light & Power plans 2000 MW coal-fired power plant in Gujarat.

Economist, January 10th, 2015
The big smoke - Britain needs to do more to clean up its dirty air.

The Pioneer, January 10th, 2015
BS-VI fuel to put a brake on pollution in 2020.

Newswire, January 9th, 2015
Slow Progress in Fighting Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Air Pollution.

Telegraph, January 9th, 2015
Pollution mislead slur on govt.

Inhabitat, January 9th, 2015
Air pollution causes more human deaths than other environmental causes.

New York Times, January 9th, 2015
Gov. Jerry Brown Begins Last Term With a Bold Energy Plan.

China Meteological Administration, January 9th, 2015
China Climate Bulletin 2014 issued.

Live Mint, Janury 9th, 2015
Scientists pinpoint pollutants causing yellowing of Taj Mahal.

Times of India, Janury 9th, 2015
Govt misled court on Delhi's pollution, say green activists.

Eco Business, January 8th, 2015
Shanghai: Ships, cargo trucks 'next' to curb air pollution.

Science Daily, January 8th, 2015
Algae blooms create their own favorable conditions.

Science Daily, January 8th, 2015
Emissions-free cars get closer.

NPR, January 8th, 2015
Environmentalists Push To Keep Canadian Crude In The Ground.

Yale e360, January 8th, 2015
Most Physicians Already Seeing - Health Effects of Climate Change in Patients.

The City Fix, January 8th, 2015
Cities fighting black carbon to achieve public health and climate benefits.

Economic Times, January 8th, 2015
Pollution to be blamed for cold wave in North India.

Financial Express, January 8th, 2015
NTPC performance flagging due to gaps in decision-making.

DNA India, January 8th, 2015
Houses, vehicles pollute as much as factories.

Hans India, January 8th, 2015
Shifting industries out of state capital.

Times of India, January 8th, 2015
22 truckloads of coal goes missing daily from MP plants.

The Hindu, January 8th, 2015
Cement industries in Damaracherla may make things easy for power project.

Times of India, January 8th, 2015
Not cars, its dust that pollutes Delhi most: Ministry of environment and forest.

Huffington Post, January 8th, 2015
Survey Finds Doctors Concerned About Impacts Of Climate Change On Patient Health.

Indian Express, January 8th, 2015
Sorry children, school won’t shut on bad air days.

Huffington Post, January 7th, 2015
Updated Smog Standards Are Needed to Protect Little Lungs.

Live Mint, January 7th, 2015
Oil slump heightens pollution challenge from Delhi to Shanghai.

Economic Times, January 7th, 2015
Coal India strike likely to impact power generation.

Financial Express, January 7th, 2014
Govt says no to banning private vehicles older than 15 years.

The News, January 7th, 2015
Burning of garbage causing pollution in capital.

The Guardian, Janaury 7th, 2015
Leave fossil fuels buried to prevent climate change, study urges.

Science Daily, January 7th, 2015
Which fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to avoid dangerous climate change?

Science Daily, January 7th, 2015
Deep Space Climate Observatory to provide 'EPIC' views of Earth.

The Telegraph, January 7th, 2015
Delhi smog clouds Obama's day out - Air may keep President indoors, mostly.

Bloomberg, January 6th, 2015
Oil Slump Heightens Pollution Challenge From Delhi to Shanghai.

Air Quality Matters, January 6th, 2015
In Europe as is true elsewhere, polluted air takes toll on heart health.

Financial Express, January 6th, 2015Time to tap solar thermal energy.

Shipping News, January 6th, 2015Global coal demand to hit 9bn tonnes by 2019.

Wall Street Journal, January 6th, 2015
Got to Admit It’s Getting Better: Beijing’s Air Pollution Improved In 2014.

News Observer, January 5th, 2015
Road Worrier: When coal is involved, electric cars are polluters, too.

Business Standard, January 5th, 2015Sunita Narain: Monitor the dangers of pollution.

Indian Express, January 5th, 2015
No more Dark days?

Equity Bulls, January 5th, 2015
BHEL gets EPC contract to set up first 800 MW Supercritical Power Project in Telangana.

Money Control, January 5th, 2015
Coal India transporting extra coal to power plants.

Phys.Org, January 2nd, 2015
Indoor wood-burning can affect air quality.

Voice of America, January 2nd, 2015Pollution Turning India’s Famed Taj Mahal Yellow.

Power Engineering, January 2nd, 2015
Coal firm claims world’s largest methane power plant.

China Daily, January 1st, 2015
Cities go live with air quality updates.

Financial Express, January 1st, 2015
Coal auctions hold promise for fuel-starved power sector.

Economic Times January 1st, 2015
Coal stock position improves at thermal power plants: Central Electricity Authority.

Economic Times, January 1st, 2015
Delhi Metro helps keep 3.9 lakh vehicles off roads in 2014.

The Guardian, January 1st, 2015
The world’s last best chance to reach an agreement on cutting carbon emissions.

Times of India, December 31st, 2014
Uncertainty over Satpura plant due to poor ash disposal.

Economic Times, December 31st, 2014
Coal Ministry says taking steps to boost coal supplies.

National Geographic, December 31st, 2014
Can Houseplants Really Clean the World's Smoggiest City?

NPR, December 30th, 20142014 Brought Lasting Action On Climate Change Policy.

Times of India, December 30th, 2014High pollution level makes city colder during day in Kanpur.

Want China Times, December 30th, 2014
Environmental protection to become big business in China.

New Sentinel, December 30th, 2014
Pollution controls' effect on quality of air clear to see.

Phys.Org, December 30th, 2014
Tehran air pollution puts nearly 400 in hospital.

New York Times, December 30th, 2014
Pollution Around the World: A Matter of Choices.

China Daily, December 30th, 2014
Tesla plays the environmental angle in China.

South China Morning Post, December 29th, 2014
China and Japan find common ground on the environment.

East Bay, December 29th, 2014
Air pollution soars as smog shrouds city.

Triple Pundit, December 29th, 2014
Beijing’s “Airpocalypse” Offers Dismal View of Life in Megacities.

Space Ref, December 28th, 2014
Air Pollution Haze Over India and Nepal As Seen From Space.

Economic Times, December 28th, 2014
North India's cities the most polluted, south's cleanest.

The Tribune, December 27th, 2014
PCB fails to monitor air pollution, rue shortage of staff, equipment.

South China Morning Post, December 26th, 2014
China to beat energy intensity target in 2014.

Times of India, December 26th, 2014
PM2.5 levels this week were worse than Diwali.

Business Today, December 26th, 2014
Delhi Metro rides high, saves Rs 10k crore in fuel, other benefits.

The nation, December 26th, 2014
China to help Thailand develop thermal and reusable energy power plants.

Xinhua Net, December 26th, 2014
China's non-fossil fuel to take larger share.

The Energy Collective, December 25th, 2014
Can Electric Vehicles Be 'Environmental Villains'?

Xinhua Net, December 23rd, 2014
China issues 190,000 penalties for environmental violators.

Suzhou, December 19th, 2014
Suzhou introduces new electric van to cut emissions.

Shanghai Daily, December 16th, 2014
Air purifiers fail to clean up.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lack of Transmission Capacity Hindering Electricity Supply in India

In the last financial year, an estimated 5,591 million units of electricity could not be cleared by the country’s energy exchanges due to the lack of a transmission network, a note from Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) said. That is 16% of what these exchanges could have transmitted if adequate capacity had been available. More @ Live Mint

Yes, the actually traded volumes on energy exchanges may be just 3% of the total electricity generated in the country. But these 5,591 million units still make up 13% of the 42,428 million units power shortage in the previous financial year. Secondly, transmission capacity is typically built for power plants which have long-term purchase agreements, thus squeezing short-term market volumes. However, its inadequacy is also the second biggest hurdle affecting upcoming thermal power plants after fuel shortage, according to some estimates. Building of transmission capacities will not only help the government achieve its aim of round-the-clock electricity availability, but will also help remove distortions in the electricity trading market.

Op-Ed on Black Carbon in India

by Jonathon Mingle in LA Times

Black carbon is scientists' term for ultra-fine particles produced by incomplete combustion. It's the stuff that makes soot dark, an unwanted byproduct of burning diesel fuel in vehicles, biomass in stoves for cooking and heating, coal in small industrial operations and agricultural waste in post-harvest fields. Humanity sends as much as 17 million metric tons of black carbon each year into the atmosphere, where it traps far more heat per unit mass than carbon dioxide, making it the second-biggest contributor to global warming.

Bounding the Role of Black Carbon in the Climate System: A Scientific Assessment

It's also a major constituent of the pollution that is now choking New Delhi. On a typical day, the Indian capital has the worst air quality of any city in the world, according to a recent U.N. report. But the air is particularly bad this time of year, as particles are trapped by cold, dense fog. So there's a good chance the president will have a hard time seeing the celebration through all the haze. On last year's Republic Day, particulate matter under 2.5 microns in diameter, which penetrates deep into human lungs, spiked to 15 times the level deemed safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition to pursuing a strong bilateral agreement to start ramping down carbon dioxide emissions, the U.S. should pursue an equally ambitious partnership to help purge India's skies and lungs of black carbon. Although we're all at risk from this pollution to varying degrees, India is perhaps the country most vulnerable to black carbon's effects.

India Launches "Black Carbon Research Initiative"

By absorbing sunlight and turning it to heat, black carbon melts the Himalayan glaciers and snowfields that hundreds of millions of Indians depend on for irrigation and drinking water. It disrupts the South Asian monsoon, which is so important to the region's agriculture that one former finance minister called it India's “real finance minister.” It is a major ingredient of the household air pollution from burning wood and dung for cooking that kills more than 1 million Indians each year. Meanwhile, black carbon and other fine particles in outdoor air pollution kill more than 620,000 Indians annually, and cause $18 billion in economic losses from damage to agriculture and health.

Black Carbon Dispersion - India's Perspective on a Global Scale

The conventional framing of India's climate options as a zero-sum game — aggressive mitigation action versus expanding economic opportunity — presents a false choice. There's a path ahead that combines enormous economic benefits with rapid reductions of climate-warming pollution. India's dependence on kerosene for lighting, solid fuels for cooking and heating, high-sulfur diesel fuel for transport and inefficient coal combustion for brick making and power generation is killing almost 2 million Indians each year — and robbing many millions more of healthy years of productive life. Tackling these sources of black carbon and carbon dioxide would be a potent boost to its economy.

BBC: Is black carbon affecting the Asian monsoon?

The U.S. can develop innovative financing mechanisms and share deep technical expertise in developing and deploying cleaner-burning technologies with agencies and research institutions in India. A wider black carbon program could be modeled on the ongoing India-California Air-Pollution Mitigation Program, which seeks to leverage California's experience in dramatically reducing black carbon emissions from diesel transport, to help India shift to more efficient, lower-emissions forms of transport, and to devise tighter new vehicle emissions rules and better enforce existing ones. This approach has cut soot concentrations in California's air by 90% since 1966.

Varieties of Carbon - Black to Green

On the docket should be common-sense measures such as accelerating distribution of ultra-low-sulfur fuel throughout India, which would enable the widespread use of black carbon-trapping diesel particulate filters. One study found this switch would create $484 billion in health and fuel savings by 2030. Other targets for acceleration include clean-cooking-stove research and distribution programs, and an all-out effort to eliminate the use of kerosene for lighting. Viable alternatives to kerosene lamps exist, such as solar lanterns and solar micro-grids, but businesses that manufacture and distribute them are starved for funds to scale up.

Science: Want to Fight Global Warming? Don't Just Focus on CO2

As California has learned, clean air unlocks economic potential. And reducing black carbon will clear skies and cool the climate almost immediately. If the U.S. has its partner's best interests in mind, it will work with India to accelerate its transition to a development path that is low-carbon in every sense. Then, perhaps on a Republic Day in the near future, celebrants will have a clear view of the vast potential of India's people.

Jonathan Mingle is the author of "Fire and Ice: Soot, Solidarity and Survival on the Roof of the World," to be published in March.

City Pollution Management Toolkit Introduced in UK

A new toolkit outlining measures that can be taken to tackle transport-related air pollution in the UK’s city regions has been created by consultants Transport & Travel Research Ltd (TTR) in partnership with TRL. Commissioned and published by pteg (Passenger Transport Executive Group) the toolkit aims to provide an easily accessible overview of the issues and options for tackling air pollution associated with transport.

pteg brings together the strategic transport bodies in in the six metropolitan areas outside London  – Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire. pteg is also a wider professional network for Britain’s largest urban transport authorities. The toolkit is aimed at transport and planning professionals and explains the process that colleagues in air quality teams follow and who can contribute to it. It references existing work being done by the city region authorities, and contains an extensive library of measures and references. The toolkit demonstrates there is much that transport and planning can do to design a low emission transport system and provide opportunities for travelling in less polluting ways.

 More @ UK Air Quality News

Need for Monitoring and Dissemination in India

US and India haven't spelt out how their partnership on addressing air pollution will roll out, but scientists and advocacy groups are already excited about the possibilities. They say the partnership can help generate real-time, reliable air quality data for all cities, to begin with. Main article @ Times of India

Low-cost, innovative technology that can be deployed immediately in all major Indian cities can help clear the air, which is the main problem. Experts, like Sarath Guttikunda, associate research professor at the Desert Research Institute, Reno, suggested that establishing a national public health alert system on the lines of US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA)'s AirNow programme, which issues real-time air quality index (AQI) data for 400 cities in US, will be beneficial.

Evolution of On-road Vehicle Exhaust Emissions in Delhi

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which has the mandate of monitoring air quality and issuing health alerts, has "failed miserably", according to scientists who are now resorting to other agencies to get reliable data. "They have no real-time data for most cities and do not follow any calibration protocol, which is why there is a huge difference in the results of air quality monitoring by different agencies," said a scientist.

MoEFCC had launched an air quality index (AQI) last year. But, according to some committee members who helped formulate the AQI, CPCB's real time monitoring system has too many glitches and doesn't have enough automatic monitoring stations —only 16 out of 246.

Joshua Apte, assistant professor, University of Texas at Austin, who is running a unique research study in Delhi on monitoring exposure to air pollution in heavy traffic junctions, said he was excited that American scientists will have something to offer now. "The first step is just to expand the existing network of monitors. There are less than 50 real-time PM2.5 monitors that are reporting data to the web in India, as compared with nearly 2,000 in China. Other pollutants also need to be monitored," he said. This may also help point at the real sources by applying advanced 'source apportionment' techniques like 'vehicles versus biomass burning versus regional haze'.

Commentary on AQI (India Together)

Anumita Roychowdhury of CSE's Clean Air programme said, "We need low cost technology to monitor air quality that can be immediately and easily deployed across cities. US is doing innovative things like roadside exposure monitoring. Moving as soon as possible to superior fuel norms —Euro 6 among others—should be done now." Since the collaboration will also cover the government's pet project of smart cities, she says it's time to set norms and guidelines to reduce dependence on personal vehicles.

World’s Worst Air Costs 6 Hours of Life in 3 days (Bloomberg)

U.S. President Barack Obama could lose roughly 6 hours from his expected lifespan after spending three days in India’s capital inhaling the world’s most toxic air. Air Force One descended through an acrid smog when it landed in New Delhi on Sunday. A day later, haze obscured the visibility of fighter jets flying over Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they watched the Republic Day parade, the ceremonial centerpiece of his visit.

Delhi has the world’s highest levels of PM2.5 -- tiny, toxic particles that lead to respiratory diseases, lung cancer and heart attacks. The Indian capital averaged 153 micrograms per cubic meter in 2013, the World Health Organization said in May, citing government data. That’s 15 times more than the average annual exposure recommended by the WHO. India as a whole is home to 11 of the top 20 cities on the planet with the worst air quality, according to data from the WHO, which collected pollution levels from 1,600 metropolitan areas between 2008 to 2013. The worst U.S. city was Fresno, California, which came 162nd on the list.

Those levels translate roughly into an estimated loss of 2 hours a day in life expectancy, said David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge, who specializes in quantifying risk in a way that is understandable to the public. “That’s roughly 8 cigarettes a day,” Spiegelhalter said in an e-mailed response to questions. “I think Delhi is a wonderful city, but this pollution is harming its residents.”

Read more @ Bloomberg

Friday, January 23, 2015

Smog Journey - A Short Film on Air Pollution in China

Jia Zhangke’s short film depicts the effects of air pollution in northeast China, a region frequently blanketed in dangerous levels of air pollution. ‘Smog Journeys’ traces two familes from two different backgrounds; one a mining family in Hebei province, and the other a trendy middle class family in Beijing. Both face a similar fate.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ministry of Environment Misguided by Bad Science on Air Pollution (EPCA)

Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has submitted its rebuttal to Supreme Court on MoEF's recent affidavit that downplayed the role of vehicles in air pollution. The ministry's original affidavit had claimed vehicles contribute only 6.6% of particulate matter (PM) pollution.

Jumbo Size Vacuum Cleaners to Purify Urban Air?

However, faced with criticism on the issue, it filed another affidavit on Friday stating vehicles contribute between 8.7% and 20.5% of PM emissions.

Bad English or Bad Science?

Rebutting the ministry's first claim, EPCA, which also submitted its rejoinder on Friday, said MoEF's stand against upgrading fuel quality to Euro IV standards across the country by end-2015 is also "unacceptable" as there has been "inordinate delay" in taking action against air pollution. Full article @ Economic Times

Air Pollution in Delhi - Winter Time Highs and Blame Games

EPCA, a body notified by the Centre in 1997 to deal with all environmental issues in the NCR and ensure compliance with air quality standards, said upgrading fuel standards immediately is important because truck traffic is a major source of air pollution. Euro IV standards for trucks are 81% cleaner than the current Euro III standards. SC was hearing a petition by MC Mehta, Supreme Court lawyer and environment activist.

A Graphic Explanation of "What is Source Apportionment"

EPCA pointed out the government is depending on "bad science", referring to National Environmental Engineering Research Institute's source apportionment study that concluded vehicles are responsible for only 6.6% PM pollution in Delhi. EPCA quoted another government study by Ministry of Earth Sciences, done before the 2010 Commonwealth Games, that found vehicles contribute 29% of PM 10 (coarse particles of less than 10 micrometre size) and 45% of PM 2.5 (fine, respirable particles of less than 2.5 micrometre size). The MoES study conducted by IITM was also published in Atmospheric Environment, a journal.

Domestic LPG is Blamed for Pollution in Delhi

EPCA sought directions from SC on creating a clean fuel fund from the Rs 2 per litre excise duty on fuels and an additional excise duty of Rs 81,000 on diesel cars, proposed by the government-appointed Kirit Parekh committee.

Is LPG Bad for the Air Quality in Indian Cities?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Air Pollution in Shanghai - Local vs. Non-Local

More than a quarter of the PM 2.5 pollutants in Shanghai in 2012 and 2013 originated from outside the city, new research shows. The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau released its most comprehensive study on the sources of PM 2.5 last Wednesday, revealing that PM 2.5 or fine particulate matter is the main air pollutant in the city. Based on weather data collected in 2012 and 2013, researchers at the air quality watchdog revealed that 74 percent of PM 2.5 came from local pollutants and the remaining 26 percent came from neighboring areas.

Most of the fine particles in the city air came from transport exhausts - cars, buses, trucks, ships, aircraft and off-road motors (like construction equipment or locomotives) and accounted for 29.2 percent of the pollution. The other major sources involved industrial waste (28.9 percent), coal burning (13.5 percent), dust (13.4 percent) and agricultural waste, straw and other biomass burning as well as domestic pollutants (15 percent).

Vehicle exhausts produce the most pollutants, accounting for more than 9.7 percent of the fine particles measured in the city, much more than in some of the cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. But the researchers found that Shanghai was less affected by coal burning than northern cities, where people rely on it for heating in winter. Researchers also found that Shanghai was less affected by dust than northern cities, because of the moist air and the city government's work in combating dust.

Read more @ Global Times

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Emissions Free Car

A University of Delaware research team is considering the important question of what it will take to create an affordable emissions-free car. The question, an issue of engineering and economics, is being studied by a team led by Yushan Yan, Distinguished Professor of Engineering. Read more @ Science Daily

Hydrogen fuel cells may be the best option for powering zero-emission vehicles: Toyota has just introduced a hydrogen-powered car in Japan and will make them available in the United States in 2015. But these fuel cells require an electrocatalyst -- a platinum surface -- to increase the reaction rate, and the cost of the precious metal makes it hard for hydrogen fuel cells to compete economically with the internal combustion engine. Yan's group has been working on a new type of fuel cells, using alkaline polymers that could employ a number of non-precious metal catalysts such as nickel, which is a thousand times cheaper than platinum. But using alkaline polymers leads to a high pH, and researchers have discovered that the reaction goes about 100 times more slowly in this environment that it does in an acid. In order to create less expensive electrocatalysts that work well in an alkaline environment, researchers have to know exactly how the reaction unfolds, and what its most essential mechanisms are.

A paper by Yan's research group, published in the Jan. 8 issue of the multidisciplinary journal Nature Communications, helps pin down the basic mechanisms of the fuel-cell reaction on platinum, which will help researchers create alternative electrocatalysts. After extensive testing, the team found that the hydrogen binding energy (the amount of energy released when a hydrogen molecule adheres to a metal surface) was the most important factor predicting the rate of the reaction -- information essential to researchers designing new catalyst materials. The paper was authored by the laboratory's recent postdoctoral researchers Wenchao Sheng and Minrui Gao; current postdoctoral student Zhongbin Zhuang and current doctoral candidate Jie Zheng, along with Yan and Columbia University's Jingguang Chen.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Monitor the Dangers of Pollution

Commentary article by Sunita Narain (CSE) - The easiest way to clear air pollution is to not know how bad it is. This is what India practices - in most parts of the country. There is virtually no equipment to monitor the air we breathe and no system that tells us what we should do when pollution levels are up and unhealthy.

Read article @ Business Standard

In fact, it is only in Delhi that there is some infrastructure to check air quality. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has six automatic air-monitoring stations spread across the city. For most of the time these work, and data is available in real time. In addition, the Central Pollution Control Board has five automatic stations for real-time monitoring. But strangely, it does not check for Delhi's key pollutant, PM2.5 - the small air toxin, which is particularly bad for health. Then, the ministry of earth sciences (because of the Commonwealth Games) set up 10 stations, including one each in Noida and Gurgaon. Since this premier scientific agency gives only an index - a number computed on the basis of its readings, to determine air quality - it is difficult to read or compare. So while Delhi has 19 stations, the data which is available on a daily basis are only from the four or five working stations of the DPCC.

Air Quality in Delhi

This is still much better than the rest of the country. The Haryana State Pollution Control Board has three stations in the national capital region, one each in Gurgaon, Faridabad and Rohtak. But currently, the data are not available on a daily real-time basis. Why? Either because the high-tech machines are out of order or because the software that would collate and transmit the data is not working. Across the country, there exist only 22 continuous monitoring stations that can check pollution in real time. Of these, data are available for only 12 stations - and worse, not a single station checks for PM2.5 (except for one location in Navi Mumbai, but here also the data are old).

We need information about air quality, as it is and at all times, so that you and I can take precautions. The air quality index (AQI) is a globally established tool to define how air pollution levels impact human health. Last month, India also launched its AQI, which for the first time tells us the health risk associated with poor air quality. For instance, the national standard (measured over a 24-hour average) for PM2.5 is 60 micrograms a cubic metre, and if the level is higher than 250 micrograms a cubic metre, then the air is classified as "severely polluted". The health advisory is that this pollution "may cause respiratory effects even on healthy people and it would have serious health impacts on people with lung or heart disease". In other words, this air is harmful for our health.

Globally, the AQI is linked to the precautions people need to take and the steps the city government should take to combat pollution. So Beijing closes schools on red alert days; Paris does not allow diesel cars inside the city on its smoggy days. Data are used to inform and then to act.

In India we can't do this. We do not have the network of stations (except in Delhi) that can inform us on a real-time basis of the dangers. What we have are some 580 manual stations to collect samples and send them for analysis in laboratories. These manual stations can give daily average data after 24 hours and that, too, only if someone collects, analyses and manually puts the information in the public domain, and does it regularly. This is rarely done - most data are over two years old - especially because no one asks for the data. So once again we do not know and the convenient corollary is the air must be clean.

It is also a fact that India cannot afford, financially or technically, the 1,000-odd automatic stations it would need. Each real-time monitoring station costs roughly Rs 1 crore. It will cost 18-20 per cent of this annually for maintenance and then more for running the stations. In contrast, a manual station is only Rs 8-10 lakh at the most, with relatively nominal operational costs.

We need a jugaad solution for monitoring air quality. At the Centre for Science and Environment, my colleagues have bought a portable machine that can check our exposure to bad air. It gives us information to act. This is what we need much more of. We need to innovate to set up new kinds of samplers, from roadside monitoring equipment and sensors to satellite-based monitors and everything else that tells us about the air quality and puts the information in our hands so that we can act.

Let's be clear: our air is not clean; we need to know exactly how bad it is, so that we stop inhaling poison with every breathe we take.