Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cooking and Heating on the Spot for Beijing Air Quality Management

After blaming power plants and factories in Beijing and Hebei province, chuan'r salesmen, and automobiles, a new study appears to have pinpointed a major source of pollution: local citizens who cook at home and use certain fuels for home heating. Specifically, coal used for cooking and heating are contributors to both air pollution and health problems in households in Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei province.

“These benefits would be largest in the winter heating season when severe air pollution occurs,” says Liu Jun of Peking University, in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Household emissions, mostly from space heating and cooking with solid fuels, are an important and generally unrecognised source of ambient air pollution in China and other developing countries," Liu says.

A 2013 study cited household pollutants as the cause of 800,000 premature deaths per year, second only to high blood pressure and just above smoking as a cause of death in China. Daily pollutants could be reduced by 22 percent if cleaner fuels were used for these regular tasks, the study finds.

Read the full article @ the Beijinger

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Monitoring Air Quality from Space

A global effort to monitor air quality is in the works as the US, Korea, and the European Union prepare to launch geostationary satellites capable of monitoring pollutants and other aerosols.

Monday, June 27, 2016

IEA Study Highlighting the Need to Cut Air Pollution, Which is Costing Trillions, to Save Millions

The Paris-based agenc, IEA, is calling for governments to adopt a strategy to cut pollutants by half, a plan that would add about 7 percent to the total energy investment needed through 2040, according to a report Monday. That includes $4.8 trillion for advanced pollution control and accelerating the transformation of the energy industry.

“Clean air is a basic human right that most of the world’s population lacks,” said Executive Director Fatih Birol. “We need to revise our approach to energy development so that communities are not forced to sacrifice clean air in return for economic growth.”

The IEA’s strategy pushes for cleaner fuels, energy efficiency, better cooking facilities and emissions controls. It also calls for a collective long-term air quality goal, policies for implementation and regulations to monitor and enforce it. The agency said the efforts may cut pollution-related deaths by more than 3 million a year.

What are the main causes of air pollution?

1. Poverty - There are 2.7 billion people in the world who burn biomass for cooking. Smoke inhalation from this, as well as burning kerosene for lighting, is estimated to cause 3.5 million premature deaths a year, mostly women and children in developing Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

2. Fossil-fuel intensive industries - Power plants that burn fossil fuels and industrial facilities are major emitters. Burning coal is responsible for 60 percent of combustion-related sulfur dioxide emissions.

3. Urbanization - Tightly-packed cities with roads full of traffic lead to dirty air. Two thirds of the $2.3 trillion investment into pollution control technologies recommended by the IEA is to comply with elevated vehicle emissions standards.

Read the full press release @ Bloomberg

Full report @ World Energy Outlook

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dusty in Doha

It has been horribly dusty across Qatar recently. For several days it was almost impossible to make out the towers of West Bay and the dust got everywhere. It coated the furniture, found its way into cupboards and turned tiled floors into hazardous skating rinks. Unfortunately, dust is one of the hazards of living in a desert. If we are to enjoy the mild winters, and the sparse rainfall, then we have to accept the loose particles as a way of life. Of course in Doha, there is also a lot of construction and a large number of vehicles and this all adds to the amount of debris in the air.

Check out Doha Dust

To give you some kind of idea as to how small these particles are, a tiny grain of sand is usually over 60 microns in diameter, far too big even to be classed as the larger PM10 particle. This explains why sand is considered to be such a heavy particle. Even a strong wind will have difficulty lifting sand over about knee height. Other particles from a desert which aren’t sand, however, such as silt and clay, can be any size, and these pose more of a threat to our health.

Aside from desert debris, the different sized particles are usually created from different things. PM10 particles are made up of smoke and dirt from factories and farming, as well as from tiny pieces of rocks and plant spores. They are generally created by grinding rocks or turning soil, and the particles are then blown by wind.
Check out AQICN

PM2.5 particles, on the other hand, are often comprised of toxic organic compounds and heavy metals. These finer particles are generated by the exhaust of vehicles, the burning of plants or by metal processing plants. The PM2.5 particles clearly sound more toxic than the larger particles, but this isn’t the only reason that they are more dangerous.
Unfortunately as well as being more hazardous, these finer particles can also spend longer suspended in the atmosphere. The larger ones will tend to settle out of the air after just a few hours, but the PM2.5 particles can travel for hundreds of kilometres and can stay in the air for days or even weeks.
Fine dust from the Sahara desert is regularly blown across the Atlantic as far as Central and South America. It can take over a week for the journey, which is undertaken by millions of tonnes of dust which is transported to the Amazon rainforest every year. This sounds like a curse for the environment, but in fact these particles include nutrient-rich sediment essential to the ecosystem.
In 2014, the World Health Organisation released a database of air pollution recorded in cities across the world. 1,600 cities were listed, spread across 91 countries. According to this list, Doha had the 12th highest average levels of PM2.5 particles, even beating Beijing, which is often making headlines for its poor air quality.
The small particles generated in Doha are generally made from construction dust and vehicle exhaust. However, some of our fine dust is also swept in from the north. A strong wind will often pick up small particles from the dried up river beds of the Euphrates and Tigress rivers and sweep them down the Gulf towards Qatar.
In order to eliminate the dust from the atmosphere, Doha could enforce more restrictions on construction and vehicles. However, it would also have to reduce the number of particles which are blown into Doha from elsewhere. Given that we are surrounded by countries with desert environments, this would be virtually impossible. There is no escaping the fact that deserts are dry places, and in dry places there is dust.

Read the full article @ Gulf Times

Unique - A Horse Carriage with Air Conditioner in Kolkata

In a city where tram employees turned a ramshackle Raj-era relic into a cool ride, here's another doit-yourself innovation that's uber-cool — an air conditioned horse carriage.

The DIY guy is Sujit Sil, who owns six horse carriages and let his imagination gallop wild one particularly sultry and sweaty day . "I am always game for doing something unique. I wanted to ramp up the decor of my coaches with intricate wooden work, like the ones you see in Varanasi and Lucknow. During my research I came across coaches in England and Switzerland," he told TOI. The Queen has one. Why shouldn't the former Raj capital have one, too? 

Sil scoured the city and found a craftsman to transform his coach, a Victorian-legacy , into a "royal landau carrier", fitted with a 0.75-tonne air conditioner. Turning an open carriage into an insulated, see-through coach wasn't easy, of course. Sil charges Rs 10,000-15,000 a night depending on the distance. He has to factor in the cost of a diesel generator and maintenance of the landau and AC.

Read the full article @ the Times of India

Friday, June 24, 2016

US-Volkswagen Agreed to Pay Up to US$7000 to 482,000 Diesel Car Owners

Volkswagen has agreed to pay US vehicle owners an average of about $5,000 apiece to settle claims from its diesel emissions cheating scandal, two people briefed on the matter said on Thursday. The total price tag for the repayments and other fines is said to exceed $10.2bn. Most of the money would go to compensate 482,000 owners of cars with 2-liter diesel engines that were programmed to turn on emissions controls during lab tests and turn them off while on the road, said the people, who asked not to be identified because a judge has issued a gag order in the case.

The company will still have to settle foreign suits over allegations that it lied about its emissions standards, in addition to claims brought by other US agencies. The US justice department is conducting a separate criminal inquiry of the automaker, which could also result in a hefty fine.

Read the full article @ the Guardian

Two-wheelers on CNG - Piloted in India

Scooters and motorcycles that run on non-polluting natural gas could be on India’s roads one day, if a pilot project involving 10 such two-wheelers launched on Thursday proves successful. The 10 two-wheelers retrofitted with compressed natural gas (CNG) systems are the first of 50 such vehicles which will be released in Delhi within a month. Emissions and efficiency of these vehicles will be closely monitored. Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar and petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched the pilot in the national capital.

Read the full article @ the LiveMint

Thursday, June 23, 2016

New $1000 Sensor Measuring Gases and Particulates in Delhi (MIT)

Glimpses of blue sky are becoming a rare sight in Delhi, India’s capital, particularly in wintertime, when a thick white haze smothers the city. David Hagan, an MIT PhD candidate studying atmospheric chemistry and a Fellow in the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design, says that the city’s air quality is now quantifiably among the worst in the world.

Hagan and his advisor, Associate Professor Jesse Kroll of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, saw this complexity as motivation to design a compact, low-cost air quality sensor that they hope will be deployed in dense networks across cities like Delhi, logging accurate, real-time data on the chemistry of the air.

“Air quality monitoring is often discussed as an either-or situation,” says Kroll. “One can have expensive, regulatory-grade monitors or else distributed, low-cost sensors. But in reality it’s a continuum, with a tradeoff between cost, size, and power on one hand, and accuracy, precision, and sensitivity on the other. We’re somewhere in the middle of the continuum, with enough accuracy and precision to provide quantitative measurements.”

Kroll and Hagan already have several prototypes on the ground in India, reporting data to a remote server every 30 seconds. Two units are located at Nehru Place in south Delhi, and four are near Connaught Place in central Delhi, co-located with a regulatory-grade sensor for calibration. Two are in the city of Pune, near Mumbai, and one is mobile — Hagan can frequently be seen taking it on rickshaw rides around Delhi.

A regulatory-grade sensor, of which there are roughly 20 in Delhi, costs between $50,000 and $100,000. Kroll and Hagan’s sensor costs “on the order of $1,000” per unit, says Hagan, and offers comparable performance, measuring six types of gases (O3, NO, NO2, SO2, CO, and volatile organic compounds) and 16 size groups, or “bins,” of particles, ranging from coarse to fine. The lower cost makes it feasible for these sensors to be deployed in large volumes, creating an opportunity to map pollutant distribution at greater levels of detail.

Read the full article @ the MIT News

Promotion of Signposts and Phone Alerts to Londoners on Air Pollution Hotspots

Roadside signposts and online alerts could be used to inform Londoners of air pollution hotspots and periods of poor air quality, under proposals announced today by the capital’s new Mayor Sadiq Kahn. Proposals being considered include roadside signs on the most polluted roads, greater promotion of the free airTEXT phone alert service and more effective use of social and traditional media to raise awareness of air pollution.

Real time nowcasts and forecasts @ London Air

Londoners should be much better informed when air pollution reaches dangerous levels in the UK capital, Kahn said, announcing he has directed Transport for London (TfL) to “urgently” develop a package of public alerts and signs aimed at increasing awareness of poor air quality in the city.

The mayor will launch a formal public consultation on a number of air pollution policies in the coming weeks and he said plans to boost awareness of air pollution episodes would be launched as part of the new policy package. Other policies he has mooted include extending the 2020 ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) area and investigatory work towards a possible diesel car scrappage scheme.

Read the full post @ the Guardian

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bangladesh to Double its Electricity Generation from Coal

Coal power generation capacity is expected to grow rapidly in Bangladesh over the next ten years, according to BMI Research, as the government seeks to take advantage of domestic coal resources and cheap imports. Under plans to expand its power sector, the government expects generation capacity to grow to move than 30 GW. BMI Research estimates the country’s current power capacity stands at just 12 GW.

Gas will remain dominant in the energy mix – but coal power generation is also expected to surge to 24TWh in 2025 from just 3 TWh in 2016. The project pipeline for coal plants accounts for 40% of the total, behind on gas. Despite this, coal will remain behind gas, oil and nuclear power in Bangladesh’s 2025 energy mix.

Bangladesh will also see an increasingly role played in its energy mix by international firms, notable those from Japan and China. The governments of both countries have adopted aggressive infrastructure export strategies recently and there has been growing competition between them within the infrastructure development space across Asia, BMI Research noted.

Read full article @ the World Coal

The Single Biggest Cause of European Air Pollution is, Apparently, Farming

The study, which was recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, was conducted by the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York and studied air pollution data from around the globe. 

Nitrogen compounds that are found in fertilisers and are released as a by-product of animal waste are thought to be the prime cause of such pollution. When winds blow these compounds to industrial areas, they react with contaminants such as sulphur, carbon and particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5). This reaction solidifies the particles into harmful substances which can be inhaled by humans and animals, causing a myriad health problems. If these particles infiltrate our bloodstream, they can inhibit the functions of our hearts, lungs and liver, causing respiratory and cardiovascular problems and even leading to premature death. In fact, a report from the Royal College of Physicians suggests that poor air quality could be claiming the lives of as many as 40,000 people in the UK on a yearly basis.

Read the full article @ Pollution Solutions

Air pollution is Responsible for 50,000 Preventable Deaths in the UK Every Year

Air pollution in Britain is a pervasive killer, but it is also intangible and silent. You can rarely see it, you can't always smell it, and it is unlikely you will ever hear it. It is even less likely that you will ever hear about it, particularly if you have tuned into any of the EU referendum debate.

Air pollution is responsible for 50,000 preventable deaths in the UK every year. It bears repeating that these deaths are entirely preventable. Poor air quality is also linked to respiratory and heart diseases that can seriously blight people's quality of life. Everyone is at risk, but children are particularly vulnerable, and if their developing lungs are affected the damage is permanent and probably life-limiting. It is a public health emergency estimated to cost the UK £20bn a year. But it is not a uniquely British problem. In fact, air pollution has no respect for national borders. It is a truly cross-border issue. One which requires truly cross-border solutions.

The British government openly admits that its efforts to improve the quality of the air that we breathe have been driven by EU laws. These are EU laws drafted in cooperation and collaboration with our closest European neighbours. The totemic legislation is the 2008 clean air directive.

The directive set legally-binding limits on toxic air pollution in towns and cities across Britain. However, the European Union's influence on UK air quality dates back to the 1970s, with the clean air directive just the latest in a series of air quality laws that have helped tackle air pollution in Britain.

Read the full article @ the Open Democracy

Air Pollution in the Kashmir Valley

Take a walk down a city road and you would at once feel dust and soot clogging your throat and stinging your eyes. From your hair to clothes a coat of dust would blanket you in such a way that you would become hard to recognize even to the members of your family. It is no wonder that chest disease specialists are finding themselves very busy with more and more patients approaching them with complaints of asthma, cough that refuses to go away. Young children, more vulnerable to such noxious fumes and dust, are being diagnosed with asthma.

To get a feel of the kind of pollutants that hang in the air we breathe in daily in the city or other major towns, we turned to the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) to get a sense of the damage we suffer. Mohammad Shafi Keenu is the regional director for Kashmir and if he is the one you depended on to warn about the damage to the health and environment from pollution, you might want to find a different source to appraise you about the ill-effects of pollutants in the environment.

Keenu seems to have a standard in his mind with which to measure the level of pollution in the Kashmir valley. He is prone to say we’re still far away from high pollution seen in Indian cities like New Delhi and Mumbai. This is the type of knowledge an elementary school student would share with you. What Keenu’s imagination fails to comprehend is the damage the rising level of pollution can cause to the fragile environment of Kashmir. According to him, the SPCB has installed four air monitoring devices in Srinagar, Khanmoh, Khrew and Lasjan areas. The devices record the levels of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) and Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM). The results, according to Keenu, are not that bad to cause a concern.

The SPCB’s own data makes Keenu’s boast seem more shallow. For example, in the Khanmoh area, the amount of RSPM recorded in February 2015 was 93.33 micrograms per cubic metre (mg/m3) whereas a year later in February 2016, the same increased to 132.67 mg/m3. Anything over 60 mg/m3 is seriously detrimental to your health. Similarly in the Khrew area, the amount of RSPM recorded in February 2015 was 85.10 mg/m3 and the same jumped up to 127 mg/m3 in January 2016.

If only one cared to look closely at the official data about pollutants in the air, we would have a good picture of the kind of challenge we are confronting. The data pin points the source of the rising level of pollution in Kashmir: increasing number of vehicles on the roads, stone crushers and factories. There are thirteen cement factories belching out smoke and dust in the air and, with demand for cement rising, it is feared it would get worse over time. For years, people living in the vicinity of these cement factories, along with many experts, have been raising a voice about the ill-effects of the pollutants released by the factories in the air, but nobody seems to heed these warnings.

Read the full article @ the Kashmir Monitor

Air Pollution in Patna

In 2016, the air in Bihar’s capital, Patna, was classified the world’s sixth-most polluted in a World Health Organisation (WHO) ranking of 3,000 cities in 103 countries. There are 10 Indian cities among 20 globally with the most polluted air.

Read the full article @ the news laundry

Now, data from #Breathe IndiaSpend‘s network of air-quality sensors–reveal that Patna’s air quality over the last month was five times above the air quality guidelines recommended by WHO. Data from our sensors recorded between 13 May and 14 June, 2016 revealed “very poor” air quality 28% of the time, meaning that possible health impacts were respiratory illness at prolonged exposure. Over the same period and time, Delhi’s PM 2.5 levels were twice above the same WHO guidelines. Patna has risen in the WHO rankings, from second in 2015 to sixth in 2016. This does not mean the city’s air improved, according to CEED analysts.

Over 29 days, IndiaSpend‘s four sensors recorded “good” air quality in Patna only 18 times, all late at night or early morning. “Good” implies an air quality index (AQI) reading below 50. The AQI is a composite measure of various pollutants.

“The high level of particulate matter concentration is adversely affecting the people in the city,” said thisreport from the Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED), an advocacy that partneredIndiaSpend and analysed Patna’s data. “The chief causes of the rampant deterioration of the air quality in the city are population growth, traditional cooking practices, power plants, dirty brick-making practices, industries, solid waste burning, increased vehicle use and construction activities in Patna.”

“While the new ranking is indicative of an improvement, it cannot be entirely trusted as the current listing is based on data from the year 2013, which is similar to the last listing of WHO (May 2014),” said the CEED report. “The ranking thus, are quite deceptive.” “Bihar has witnessed a double digit growth in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate in last five years,” the CEED report said. “However, this growth has come with a heavy price. The city’s environment has suffered majorly in terms of its air quality, making Patna one of the most polluted cities in the country and across the globe.”

India Spend #Breathe Now Monitoring Particulate Pollution in Patna

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Shanghai to Close 255 Industrial Facilities for G20 Summit and Clear Skies

China ordered at least 255 Shanghai-based industrial facilities, including part of a major oil refinery operated by Sinopec Corp, to shut for 14 days to reduce pollution ahead of the G20 summit, according to an official document reviewed by Reuters.

The document, issued by the Shanghai Environment Protection Bureau, has ordered a wide range of companies from power and petrochemical plants to logistics firms to shut down between Aug. 24 and Sept. 6 for the upcoming G20 meet in Hangzhou. Authorities in neighboring Zhejiang and Jiangsu province are set to issue similar orders to limit air pollution and safety hazards within a 300 km radius from Hangzhou, according to industry and government officials.

Shanghai Petrochemical Corp, a subsidiary refinery of state refiner Sinopec Corp, will reduce its capacity by 50 percent, or about 120,000 barrels per day (bpd), for the G20 event during those two weeks, the document from the environment bureau said. Coal-fired power plants in the area that do not meet emissions standards will be fully closed over the two weeks, it also said, and the usage of heavy machinery will be reduced by 30 percent across Shanghai.

The G20 summit, hosted in the first week of September, has become China's biggest diplomatic event of the year and is expected to gather together world leaders like Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama.

Read the full article @ the Reuters

India Orders National Thermal Power Plants to Stop Coal Imports

the Mining Weekly - Concerned over mounting stocks at Coal India Limited (CIL) and falling off take by large consumers, the Coal Ministry has directed government-owned and -operated thermal power producers to stop all coal imports and instead source feed stock from the domestic miner. 

Coal Secretary, Vikas Swarup, said that the government had put in place an effective process of auctioning coal for private companies and eight-million tons a month would be offered to the power sector. He pointed out that power generation companies had to clear outstanding payments to CIL, saying that in last financial year, these companies’ uncleared dues amounted to $179-million. 

Significantly, in a more drastic step to reduce coal imports, the Indian government has scrapped plans for the construction of at least four large thermal power plants categorised as ultra-mega thermal power plants with aggregate generating capacity of 16 GW. The four proposed plants to be located in the provinces of Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha would together have required 46-million tons a year of coal, half of which would have been sourced through imports. 

Government officials said that the scrapping of the projects was in line with the Coal Ministry target of eliminating coal imports within the next two to three years. Government data released this month showed that coal imports during May 2016 were 16.38-million tons, down 19% over the corresponding month of previous year.

India Air Purifiers Market Worth US$209 Million by 2021

The market for air purifiers in India is projected to reach US $ 209 million by 2021. Residential as well as commercial sectors are anticipated to generate high demand for air purifiers in India during the forecast period, due to rising disposable income levels of consumers and increasing awareness among people about benefits of using air purifiers.

Rising commercial infrastructural developments in the country, increasing vehicle sales, and deteriorating air quality are projected to drive air purifiers market in India during 2016-2021. Major cities in India such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune have high pollution levels and are ranked among the most polluted cities in the world.

Consequently, these cities are major demand generators for air purifiers. Increasing air pollution due to vehicular and industrial emissions is resulting in increasing incidences of respiratory ailments, which is boosting demand for air purifiers in the country.

Some of major users of air purifiers in India include healthcare institutes, embassy's, hospitality sector, data centers and other commercial establishments. Growing awareness about the harmful effects of indoor air pollution is also anticipated to drive demand for air purifiers from the residential sector as well over the next five years.

Read the full article @ the business wire

Rajshahi (Bangladesh) - the City That Took on Air Pollution – and Won

Once, Rajshahi’s sweltering summers were made worse by a familiar problem on the Asian subcontinent: windows would have to be shut, not because of the wind or monsoon, but because of the smog. Dust blown up from dry riverbeds, fields and roads, and choking smog from ranks of brick kilns on the edge of town helped to secure the place a spot in the top tier of the world’s most polluted cities.

Then suddenly Rajshahi, in Bangladesh, hit a turning point so dramatic that it earned a spot in the record books: last year, according to UN data, the town did more than any other worldwide to rid itself of air particles so harmful to human health. Rajshahi does not have a large industrial area, and it is too poor to have streets clogged with cars. Instead, Haque believes it was the campaign to clean up the brick kilns, as well as efforts to make the city greener, that have turned the tide.

Levels of larger PM10 particles went from 195 micrograms per cubic metre in 2014, to just 63.9 in 2016, a reduction of about two-thirds, and the largest in the world in absolute terms. Smaller PM2.5 particles have been nearly halved to 37 micrograms per cubic metre from 70. Nowadays it’s a different city, thanks to the campaign that began with a tree-planting drive more than 15 years ago, and now encompasses everything from transport to rubbish collection. Dust still hangs heavy in the air on occasions, but the transformation has been welcomed by local residents in a country where urban authorities more often generate frustration and resentment.

Upgrades to the brick kilns, such as changing chimneys and fuel, have reduced the amount of pollution they spew out around the city, Haque says. And he has personally designed and overseen a project to make the city centre greener while reducing the amount of dust kicked up by people and vehicles. He became convinced that the city needed more pavements after trips to study urban planning abroad. At the time the asphalt surfacing of the city roads mostly ended in a dusty verge, sometimes with open drains, dangerous and unappealing for walking along, he said.

People are proud of their town, and have started looking after it more closely after the transformation, says restaurateur SM Shihab Uddin, who spent nearly a decade working in Cyprus before returning to open his own chain of eating spots for the growing middle class.

Read the full article @ the Guardian

Saturday, June 11, 2016

OECD Study - Air Pollution Impacts Will Cost USD 2.6 trillion annually by 2060

Outdoor air pollution could cause 6 to 9 million premature deaths a year by 2060 and cost 1% of global GDP – around USD 2.6 trillion annually – as a result of sick days, medical bills and reduced agricultural output, unless action is taken, according to a new OECD report.

The Economic Consequences of Air Pollution finds the consequent reduction in global economic output by 2060 will equate to around USD 330 per person, as annual healthcare costs related to air pollution rise to USD 176 billion from USD 21 billion in 2015 and the number of work days lost to air pollution-related illness jumps to 3.7 billion from 1.2 billion.

“The number of lives cut short by air pollution is already terrible and the potential rise in the next few decades is terrifying. If this is not motivation enough to act, this report shows there will also be a heavy economic cost to not taking action,” said OECD Environment Director Simon Upton, presenting the report at the 8thEnvironment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Batumi, Georgia. “We must prevent these projections from becoming reality.”

Outdoor air pollution caused more than 3 million premature deaths in 2010, with elderly people and children most vulnerable. The OECD projections imply a doubling, or even tripling, of premature deaths from dirty air – or one premature death every four or five seconds – by 2060.

The biggest rises in mortality rates from air pollution are forecast in India, China, Korea and Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan, where rising populations and congested cities mean more people are exposed to power plant emissions and traffic exhaust. Premature death rates are forecast to be up to three times higher in 2060 than in 2010 in China and up to four times higher in India. Death rates are seen stabilising in the United States and falling in much of Western Europe thanks in part to efforts to move to cleaner energy and transport.

Projected GDP losses will be biggest in China, Russia, India, Korea and countries in Eastern Europe and the Caspian region, as health costs and lower labour productivity hit output. Poor air quality will hit China’s economy harder than India’s because differences in household savings rates and demographics mean the knock-on effects of lower productivity and increased health spending on the rest of the Chinese economy will be much larger.

A reduction in crop yields as a result of dirty air will weigh on most countries’ economies. Exceptions will include Brazil, Russia and some Latin American countries where agricultural land is set to be less affected, meaning improved export competitiveness and thus economic gains.

The report also examines the negative impact of outdoor air pollution in terms of the price people would be willing to pay each year to not have their health impaired or their lives cut short by it. This hypothetical annual value of air pollution is seen rising from less than USD 500 per person in 2015 to as much as USD 2,800 in 2060.

Press release

Read the report

Summary Brochure

India to Loose 1.0% GDP and China 2.5% Due to Air Pollution in 2060

Air pollution may reduce the size of the global economy by as much as 1 percent by 2060, and it’s emerging economies like China and India that will be hit the hardest, according to an OECD report Thursday. Worsening air pollution caused by power plants and traffic fumes might triple the number of sick days to 3.7 billion, the organization said. It called for governments to enact tougher environmental laws.

More @ Bloomberg

Supercritical Thermal Power Plants to Replace the Aging Plants in Punjab

The Punjab government plans to shut state-owned “inefficient” thermal power plants in Bathinda and Rupnagar and have a superior, supercritical replacement of higher capacity at Rupnagar. Unlike a conventional coal-fired thermal plant, a supercritical plant consumes less fuel, produces less carbon gases and is more efficient in power generation.

Top leaders, including deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also in charge of the power department, have discussed the plan with Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and formed a committee of its thermal-division engineers to study the matter. “We’ll have a clear picture in two-to-three months,” said a power department source. The state government wants the PSPCL to build the supercritical plant. For the new supercritical plants in Talwandi Sabo and Rajpura, it went to private players.

The Rupnagar thermal plant has four units each of 420 MW, first of which was commissioned in 1974. The Bathinda plant with six units of 210 MW each had its first unit commissioned in 1984. The power department claims that both plants are past their stipulated life.

Read the full article @ The Hindustan Times

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Can Delhi Save itself?

On winter nights, New Delhi burns with innumerable fires. Flames flicker along pavements and street corners, where the destitute huddle to stay warm and cook their suppers, while night watchmen stand guard next to their own small blazes outside private homes. The rising plumes of smoke mingle with exhaust and dust stirred up by overloaded trucks that rumble down roads blanketed in fog. The mixture melds into a nearly opaque substance that leaves a metallic taste on the tongue. Overhead, there is not a single star to be seen.

Read the full article @ Nature News

Commentary piece - What's polluting Delhi?

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Norway Agreed to Ban Sale of All Petrol and Diesel Vehicles from 2025

Norway’s four leading political parties have reportedly reached an agreement to ban the sale of all gasoline-powered cars by 2025, according to Norwegian Liberal Party MP Ola Elverstuen. “After 2025 new private cars, buses and light commercial vehicles will be zero-emission vehicles. By 2030, new heavier vans, 75 percent of new long-distance buses, 50 percent of new trucks will be zero emission vehicles,” he said. About 24 percent of Norway’s cars are already electric vehicles. Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted words of praise for the development, calling Norway an “amazingly awesome country.”

However, there is some uncertainty as the two left-leaning parties have confirmed the news while the two right-leaning parties have denied it. “The government and its partners agree on a new step on the way towards a low-emission society … but there is no talk of banning the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles in 2025 as one would be led to believe in Dagens Næringsliv,” the conservative party said in a press release, as quoted by The Local.

More @ CNBC

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Climbing CO2 Levels - Permanently Above 400ppm

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are monitored at stations around the world, providing records of the mark humans are leaving on the planet. Keeling’s father, Charles Keeling, began the recordings at Mauna Loa in 1958, revealing not only the annual wiggles created by the seasonal growth and death of vegetation, but the steady rise in CO2 from year to year. The resulting graph, dubbed the Keeling Curve in his honor, became an icon of climate science. Read the full article @ Climate Central

Friday, June 03, 2016

Indian Meteorological Department Expecting More Rain in 2016 Monsoons

Vietnam Approves Air Quality Management Plan for 2020

The National Action Plan on Air Quality Control by 2020, which aims to strictly monitor sources of exhaust fumes, especially industrial fumes, has been approved Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The four-year plan also targets to identify the levels of dust pollution in urban areas and then determine the solution.

Under the plan, 80 per cent of steel, chemical and fertiliser producers across the country will run national-standard systems to treat dust and exhaust fumes, including sulfur dioxide (SO2), mono-nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO), and 90 per cent of thermal power plants nationwide will install emission observation systems in the next four years.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc gave the green light to the plan three months after Hanoi’s air pollution was reported to be at hazardous levels in March, according to the Air Quality Index’s statistics, threatening the health of those with respiratory diseases and endangering public health in general.

At that time, Hoang Duong Tung, deputy head of the Vietnam Environment Administration said “Air pollution in Hanoi is a very worrying situation currently.” To achieve the plan’s goals, authorised agencies have been told to quickly perfect policies related to air quality control, strengthen international co-operation, mobilise financial support and raise public awareness of air pollution, the plan said.

More @ VietnamNet

Thursday, June 02, 2016

NASA Satellite Feeds Used to Detect Missing SO2 Emission Sources Across the Globe

Using a new satellite-based method, scientists at NASA, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and two universities have located 39 unreported and major human-made sources of toxic sulfur dioxide emissions. Read the full article @ Science Daily

A known health hazard and contributor to acid rain, sulfur dioxide (SO2) is one of six air pollutants regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Current, sulfur dioxide monitoring activities include the use of emission inventories that are derived from ground-based measurements and factors, such as fuel usage. The inventories are used to evaluate regulatory policies for air quality improvements and to anticipate future emission scenarios that may occur with economic and population growth.

But, to develop comprehensive and accurate inventories, industries, government agencies and scientists first must know the location of pollution sources. The 39 unreported emission sources, found in the analysis of satellite data from 2005 to 2014, are clusters of coal-burning power plants, smelters, oil and gas operations found notably in the Middle East, but also in Mexico and parts of Russia. In addition, reported emissions from known sources in these regions were -- in some cases -- two to three times lower than satellite-based estimates.

Altogether, the unreported and underreported sources account for about 12 percent of all human-made emissions of sulfur dioxide -- a discrepancy that can have a large impact on regional air quality, said McLinden.

The research team also located 75 natural sources of sulfur dioxide -- non-erupting volcanoes slowly leaking the toxic gas throughout the year. While not necessarily unknown, many volcanoes are in remote locations and not monitored, so this satellite-based data set is the first to provide regular annual information on these passive volcanic emissions.

Delhi is Data Deficit

Full article @ Indian Express - Anyone who attempts to estimate vehicular pollution in Delhi has to rely on assumptions. This is because no one has ever taken a random sampling of various vehicles and measured their emissions while they are on road. So no one knows what CNG buses, taxis or three-wheelers of different ages actually emit while operating at different speeds. All of us are forced to estimate these numbers from new vehicle test results or data from abroad. 

For example, every chemist knows that NOx is not produced by the fuel used but by Nitrogen and Oxygen in air combining when any fuel burns in an engine. The amount produced increases with increase in temperature of combustion. Diesel engines produce more NOx than petrol engines because diesel burns at a higher temperature than petrol. But, CNG also burns at a much higher temperature than petrol and therefore it is possible that all CNG vehicles produce more NOx, creating more Ozone than petrol cars. But there is no discussion on this issue. No one knows how many cars and motorcycles operate in Delhi; official statistics appear to be much higher than actual figures.

Almost 15 years ago, R. A. Mashelkar, as chair of the expert committee on auto fuel policy, had attempted to estimate the number of vehicles in Delhi. His study informed us that actual number of operating vehicles was about 60 to 65 per cent of the registered numbers; the transport department ignored the findings. The numbers made sense to me because over the past 25 years, I have sent four vehicles to the junkyard but still possess all the registration certificates. It appears that most people never have a vehicle deregistered. Two years ago, we did surveys in Delhi, Rajkot and Vishakhapatnam to understand whether the Mashelkar Committee report was still usable. Our results confirmed that the number of cars and motorcycles actually on the roads of Delhi might be only about 50 to 55 per cent of those registered.

news and data links from Delhi's odd/even days

The best decision taken yet is the move to introduce Bharat VI emission and fuel norms as soon as possible. This will be a major improvement over the present situation. In the meantime, we must start working more seriously on detailed cost-effective studies to ensure various options are available to draw up time-bound programmes with measurable milestones. At this juncture, it is very important to remember M.K. Gandhi’s time-honoured advice: “Action in the absence of knowledge can be dangerous and worse than no action at all”.

EU Cities Pressure National Governments to Act Against Air Pollution

Representatives of city governments across Europe signed a pact in Amsterdam on Monday (30.05.2016) pledging to take action on air pollution, as national governments are poised to water down European Union quality rules.

The declaration comes just four days before national governments are set to water down proposed EU caps on air pollution at a meeting in Brussels. Authorities from European cities most affected by air pollution have been putting pressure on national governments to change course. But proposed stricter EU pollution limits are set to be blocked by the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Poland and a handful of other EU countries in a vote on Friday.

The European Commission, the EU's executive branch, proposed the tighter air pollution limits last year, and the European Parliament have approved these. But national governments have the final say. On the same day of the pact's signature, mayors of the French and British capitals published a joint letter to national governments asking them to stick with the more ambitious proposal.

"Estimations by the European Commission suggest that weaker national emissions ceilings would lead to about 16,000 extra deaths in the EU every year," says the letter, signed by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and the new London mayor Sadiq Khan. "This is not acceptable and we require our governments to follow the bold lead taken by our cities in tackling this issue."

Read the full article @ the DW

India’s Taj Mahal Has Insect Problem

India’s world-famous Taj Mahal is facing a new threat: insect poop. The Yamuna River flows around the Taj Mahal, and the river is heavily polluted. Large numbers of insects are breeding in the polluted waterway. Officials say the insects land on the Taj Mahal and leave poop behind on its white stone walls. The insects’ droppings are beginning to turn the walls green.

Bhuvan Vikram is the top official at the Archeological Survey of India in the city of Agra, home of the famous building. He told VOA that, “During the evening time, [the insects] get attracted towards the white [surfaces] and during the night they stay over there and leave those greendeposits.” Workers try to remove the insects’ waste. But experts fear heavy cleaning could damage the artwork in the Taj Mahal. Vikram said workers first discovered the problem last year. But they identified the cause of the problem only recently. 

A fly known as the genus Geoldichironomus is the insect responsible for all the droppings. Those insects survive best in the hot weather and in the algae along the sides of the river. The city of Agra is home to many people and lots of industry. Environmentalists have struggled for years to protect the Taj Mahal’s white stone from turning yellow because of air pollution.

Read the full article @ The VoA

More Than 1 Billion People Live in Countries with No Air Monitoring

The global air pollution 'blindspot' affecting 1 billion people - More than 100 of the world’s poorest and most poorly governed countries have no or limited monitoring of the polluted air their citizens are breathing.

Guardian analysis has revealed a great air pollution blindspot stretching the length of Africa, across large parts of the former Soviet Union, south-east Asia and the Caribbean. In 92 countries the monitoring equipment and staff needed to measure one of the world’s most deadly pollutants - particulate matter (PM) - are simply not available. A further 33 countries, including Indonesia, Egypt and Russia monitor just one or two cities.

Outdoor air pollution kills 3.3 million people each year and it is getting worse. Globally, pollution levels have risen by 8% in five years. But there are signs that it can be brought under control. According to the WHO, pollution is falling in many places where monitoring occurs, including a third of cities in low- and middle-income countries.

Setting up stations to record pollution was the first step, said a WHO spokeswoman: “The cities which have invested in the capacity to regularly monitor and report the local air quality measurements have already demonstrated a commitment to starting to address air quality issues and public health.”

Read the full article @ The Guardian