Sunday, July 31, 2016

Air Pollution Linked to Brain Disorders

Dirty gray particulates hanging around as you inhale aren’t too helpful for public health. Particulates spewing from ICE cars, trucks, and buses affect many people worse than pollen. New research by the American Psychological Association reports that I am not alone in being concerned about this.

The American Psychological Association (APA) links air pollution to brain disorders and diminished cognitive abilities. “Smog in our brains,” published by the American Psychological Association, links air pollution to increased depression, troubles for children in their educational process, and degenerative problems.

“Now, the evidence is mounting that dirty air is bad for your brain as well,” APA writes. Kristin Weir points out, “That yellow haze of smog hovering over the skyline isn’t just a stain on the view. It may also leave a mark on your mind.”

Thank you, APA, for another study to add to the wealth of research supporting commonsense — air pollution is a dumb choice, especially now that we have competitive electric transport and clean electricity options.

Read the full article @ Clean Technica

Indian Passenger Rely on Buses More than Any Other Mode of Transport

Though most in both urban and rural areas primarily rely on buses for travel, other kinds of vehicles, like two-wheelers and cars, dominate. Buses (and trams) account for the bulk of the spending on travel in India, a sample survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) has revealed; yet buses constitute only a small fraction of the total number of vehicles on the roads. Though most people in both urban and rural areas primarily rely on buses for travel, other kinds of vehicles, like two-wheelers and cars, have come to overwhelmingly dominate the transportation scene over the years.

Though the NSSO survey did not take into account the monthly per capita expenses for travelling using the respondents' own vehicles, the percentage share of buses is strikingly high in both urban and rural areas. This, despite those living in urban areas spending a much larger amount on transportation than those in rural areas.

Link to NSSO databases

The survey revealed that spending on transportation accounts for a large share of the expenditure on services. The majority of households - 66 per cent in rural and 62 percent in urban areas had incurred expenditure on bus travel. But in terms of the budget share on bus transport, rural areas were ahead with 68 per cent. The spending on buses was about 10 per cent less in urban areas. The data covered travel expenses for a month. The survey on ‘Household Expenditure on Services and Durable Goods’ was conducted between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. A total of 7,969 villages and 6,048 urban blocks were surveyed.

The modes of transport that are receding into the background are often the ones that need to be encouraged most. As a National Transport Development Policy Committee Report (NTDPC), released in 2013, observed, "rising car ownership and declining rates of walking and cycling have placed severe pressure on urban roads. Municipal bus services are often in short supply or entirely missing from urban areas where they are much needed. "

Read the full article @ The Hindu

Nigeria Considering Coal Power Plants

In West Africa, the Nigerian federal government intends to use clean coal power plants as part of maximising its power generation mix. On Monday, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of science and technology, stated that his ministry is conducting research into clean coal power plants that will enable the country to expand its energy resources.

Onu made the announcement at the national technical validation workshop on Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), organised by the Energy Commission of Nigeria with support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) It is reported that the move for government to develop an interest in the use of coal power plants forms part of the SE4ALL Action Agenda for Nigeria. The objectives of the SE4ALL are to ensure universal access to modern energy services, doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix as well as doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency for all by 2030.

Read the full article @ ESI AFRICA

Rains Help Reduce Air Pollution, But Gurgaon (Delhi) is Facing a Different Urban Problem in Rains

The incessant rains over the last couple of days drowned the Millennium City of Gurgaon causing long traffic snarls, some even extending more than 10 kilometres. Several areas in the city were flooded, pointing to the critical lack of infrastructure and a planned drainage system.The situation worsened on Thursday night when commuters, travelling in motorcycles and four-wheelers were stuck in traffic jams for hours.

Check meteorological forecasts @ Delhi Air Quality . Info

This led to a chaotic situation exposing the lack of preparations to deal with such conditions in a city where thousands of commuters enter from different parts of Delhi for different purposes. A large number of multinational companies are housed in the city which employ thousands of people residing in different parts of Delhi. The authorities also seemed under-prepared in dealing with the situation initially as the pumping of water was stopped after a couple of hours on Thursday due to danger of the Badshahpur drain overflowing.

The district magistrate also ordered that schools should remain closed on Friday and Saturday. However, confusion prevailed as parents sent their wards to school on Friday morning and the school authorities sent them back home.

The situation seemed to be grim on Friday morning too as the Gurgaon police issued an advisory asking people traveling from Delhi to stay back and avoid getting stuck in traffic jams. Many vent their frustration and anger on social media sharing pictures and videos on social media. However, the police tried their best to keep the civilians updated with current situation at different areas through Twitter and other platforms.

The situation improved on Friday evening and the prohibitory orders were also lifted. Potholes appeared on roads on Saturday morning as water receded. The restoration work has begun as the flow of traffic will again go up as Monday approaches. Although the weekend is predicted to get less rain than usual, strong showers are expected by Tuesday.

Read the full article @ Indian Express

Friday, July 29, 2016

Mobile Pollution Monitoring in Kathmandu

The Department of Environment plans to introduce mobile air pollution monitoring service in the city within a month. The service would allow the public to contact their municipality or concerned office if they wish to have the air pollution level in their locality measured. The department informed that works on the project began a month ago, and the Kathmandu Metropolitan

With the works on installing three fixed air quality monitoring stations in Kathmandu and Kavrepalan chowk in full swing, the government started this project especially for places where fixed stations won’t be available.

The mobile van will monitor dust particle levels and levels of four air pollutant gases, and send the data in real time to the central server at the National Information Technology Centre, and a separate portal at the Department of Environment. The van will monitor levels of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and ozone in the air. A dust particulate monitoring equipment has been provided by the Kathmandu Sustainable Urban Transport Project to the department. Kathmandu Metropolitan City informed that although the decision to provide the department a van was made one-and-a-half weeks ago, the department is yet to receive it.

The department is in the process of installing 56 stations throughout the country with the help of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, and the Kathmandu Sustainable Urban Transport Project. According to the Environment Performance Index- 2016 that quantifies the environmental performance of state’s policies, Nepal ranks 149 among 180 countries.

Read the full article @ the Himalayan Times

Car License Plate in Beijing = A Golden Ticket

Beijing is one of only a handful of Chinese cities that limits car license plates by official decree. The competition for a license plate in Beijing is ferocious. In the June lottery, only about one in 725 out of the 2.7 million applicants was granted a license plate, according to official data, making the system one of the most selective in the country.

As China has urbanized and the Chinese have become more affluent, owning a car has become a way of life for many middle-class citizens. Even in Beijing, a city plagued by notorious traffic gridlock, the desire for cars remains strong.

Troubled by crowded public transportation systems, the middle class has come to associate cars with the freedom to travel. The city, with a population of about 21 million, now has 5.6 million cars, more than double what it had 10 years ago.

The glut of cars is believed to cause 31 percent of the air pollution in Beijing, according to the city’s environmental watchdog. Not only are cars clogging the city’s streets, they also encroach on public spaces like sidewalks and bike lanes because of a lack of parking.

Faced with the problems brought on by the growing number of cars, city officials decided to take action. This month, Beijing’s transportation authorities said they would keep the number of cars under 6.3 million by the end of 2020 by further tightening the annual quota for license plates. The quota this year is set at 90,000, down from 120,000 a year earlier. City officials are also considering traffic congestion fees based on driving radius and number of trips.

China is the world’s largest car market. In big cities, along with a house, a car is widely seen as a must-have before marriage. So as Mr. Li’s wedding date drew near, his patience ran out: After buying the Volkswagen in April, he drove more than 620 miles to his fiancĂ©e’s home province, Jilin in northeast China, to register his car.

Read the full article @ the New York Times

Carbon-financed Cookstove Program Failed to Deliver the Benefits in the Field

Replacing traditional cooking fires and stoves in the developing world with "cleaner" stoves is a potential strategy to reduce household air pollution that worsens climate change and is a leading global killer.

A new study by researchers from the University of British Columbia, University of Washington and elsewhere -- which measured ambient and indoor household air pollution before and after a carbon-finance-approved cookstove intervention in rural India -- found that the improvements were less than anticipated.

Actual indoor concentrations measured in the field were only moderately lower for the new stoves than for traditional stoves, according to a paper published in June in Environmental Science & Technology. The study is one of only a handful to measure on-the-ground differences from a clean cookstove project in detail, and the first to assess co-benefits from a carbon-financed cookstove intervention.

Additionally, 40 percent of families who used a more efficient wood stove as part of the intervention also elected to continue using traditional stoves, which they preferred for making staple dishes such as roti bread. That duplication erased many of the hoped-for efficiency and pollution improvements.

Read the full article @ Science Daily

China's Coal Use Peaks, to Control CO2 and Air Pollution

A new study confirms what Climate Progress first reported in May 2015: China’s coal use appears to have peaked years ahead of schedule. Leading climate economist Lord Nicholas Stern, currently at the London School of Economics, together with colleagues from Tsinghua University in Beijing, has an open-access article in the journal Nature Geoscience, “China’s post-coal growth.” The researchers conclude:

Slowing GDP growth, a structural shift away from heavy industry, and more proactive policies on air pollution and clean energy have caused China’s coal use to peak. It seems that economic growth has decoupled from growth in coal consumption. They place China’s peak coal year in 2013, explaining, “China’s coal use dropped to 4.12 billion tons, a decrease of 2.9% in 2014, with another 3.6% increase in 2015,” while GDP grew roughly 7 percent both years.

The study includes the customary caveats about “ambiguities in the accuracy of China’s coal use data,” but notes that “the government has retrospectively revised statistics on the basis of more accurate accounting.” They point out that “for long-term perspective, it is not important whether the peak year is 2013 or 2014: What matters is the reversal in the trend.”

But is this really a permanent trend shift or “merely a temporary dip due to economic fluctuations,” as the study puts it? The authors note that there are three reasons to believe this is a trend reversal. 
  • First, China’s economic slowdown and its shift away from heavy manufacturing “are long-term trends characterizing China’s new phase of economic development.” This is a key point we madelast year in a post on a new study from the Center for American Progress (where I am a Senior Fellow):
  • Second, China’s shift away from coal is part of a “long-term strategy” to respond to their terrible air pollution problems, as well as climate change. The authors note, “For the government, curbing air pollution is important aspect of maintaining political legitimacy.” Many Chinese experts in and out of the country made that same point to me during and after my visit to Beijing last June. On the climate front, the Chinese government said back in November 2014 that it would cap coal use by 2020, as we reported. And that pledge came quickly after the breakthrough CO2 deal Chinese President Xi Jinping announced with Obama that same month, where we learned “China intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to peak early.” China was always planning to peak CO2 (and coal) early.
  • Third, the authors point out that China has made leadership in clean energy a national priority. We’ve already seen China become a leader in solar manufacturing and deployment, wind manufacturing and deployment, and electric car and battery manufacturing and deployment. China now accounts for “one third of global investment in clean energy.”
Read the full article @ Think Progress

Korea Promises to Reduce Their Air Pollution Burden in Seoul by 10% by 2018

Last year, the average number of fine dust particles (PM 2.5) per cubic meter in Seoul equaled 23 micrograms. “Given the fact that air pollution in Seoul isn’t created by the city alone, the goal of the city government to reduce it by 20 micrograms will require the city to do all it can,” said Seo Jeom-sook, official of the Climate and Environment Headquarters of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. “The Ministry of Environment set the same goal in air quality index, but its target year is 2021. The Seoul government is trying to do the same thing in a shorter time frame.”

According to the city government, 79 percent of air pollution in Seoul is influenced by factors outside of Seoul and Korea. But within the city, it says, 35 percent of air pollution is caused by vehicles. Seoul said it will crack down on the 113,000 diesel vehicles weighing more than 2.5 tons which were registered before 2005. From 2017 onward, the city government will ask the vehicles’ owners to scrap the cars or install them with pollution reduction devices.

Furthermore, the city will restrict these old diesel vehicles from entering Seoul and the capital areas and anyone who violates the regulations twice will be fined up to 2 million won ($1,760).

Read the full article @ Seoul Daily

Car Ride Sharing Legalized in China

China is already the largest market for ridesharing services, with Uber fighting to gain market share against leader Didi Chuxing. But until now the practice has been quasi-legal at best. That changed on Thursday when the Chinese government ruled that the industry is legal and set guidelines for things like fares and driver employment. Most notably, the government told local authorities to “encourage, support and guide” the industry, according the Associated Press.

“DiDi welcomes the government’s endorsement and encouragement of the industry and China’s emerging sharing economy,” the company said in a statement. “We believe the Rules will usher in a new stage of growth for China’s online ride-booking ecosystem and that DiDi is prepared to meet these new requirements.”

The joint ruling from China’s transportation ministry and other departments still designates most regulation of ridesharing services to local governments. But at the least, companies like Uber hope that their offices won’t be raided by police again, like they were in several cities last year.

Read the full article @ Forbes

Air Quality Monitoring Market is Worth USD 5.64 Billion in 2021

On the basis of products, the global AQM market is divided into two major categories, namely, indoor and outdoor monitors. Indoor monitors are further divided into fixed and portable monitors. Outdoor monitors are further classified into fixed, portable, dust, and particulate monitors and AQM stations. The indoor monitors segment is estimated to command the larger share in the global air quality monitoring market in 2016. The larger market share can primarily be attributed to the increasing adoption of smart home & green-building technologies, growing consumer preference for pollution-free indoor environments, and the development & commercialization of innovative wearable air quality monitoring technologies.

The AQM market has also been segmented on the basis of sampling method into continuous, manual, passive, and intermittent sampling methods. The continuous monitoring segment is estimated to command the largest share in the global air quality monitoring market in 2016. The large share of this segment can be attributed to the presence of supportive government regulations for effective continuous air pollution monitoring across major markets, technological advancements in continuous monitoring systems, and a large installation base for continuous air monitoring systems.

Based on type of pollutants, the chemical pollutants segment is estimated to dominate the global air quality monitoring market in 2016. The largest share of this segment can be attributed to factors such as increasingly stringent government regulations for effective monitoring & control of rising air pollution levels, growing public concerns related to health implications of air pollution, and ongoing development and commercialization of innovative gas & chemical detection sensors.

Read the full article @ PRN Newswire

Monday, July 25, 2016

Infographic - Benefits of Banning Old Vehicles in Delhi - at Best 4% of the Overall PM2.5 Pollution

Air Pollution Turns Diamonds - Really, Coming to Beijing

Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde has come up with an innovative plan to tackle Beijing’s air pollution problem – and in doing so, turn a health hazard into a thing of beauty. After a pilot in Rotterdam, the Smog Free Project is coming to China. The project consists of two parts. First, a 7m tall tower sucks up polluted air, and cleans it at a nano-level. Second, the carbon from smog particles is turned into diamonds. Yes, diamonds.

The other aspect of the project will see the captured smog transformed into diamonds. 32% of Beijing’s smog is carbon, which under 30 minutes of pressure can be turned into diamonds. “As a designer, I’m like, this [the Beijing smog] is something we should use, this is something interesting,” he said. “In the future waste should not exist.” The money raised by jewellery made with these diamonds will go towards supporting the development and building more Smog Free towers.

Read the full article @ the World Economic Forum

US to Help Make Viral Videos on Climate Change in India

The U.S. government is planning a viral video campaign to “raise awareness on climate change” in India as part of an initiative to help the country decrease its carbon emissions. “Climate Change is a top policy priority for Mission India,” which is why State Department will pay up to $95,000 for several 2-3 minute videos that will “inspire the viewers to take action to curb climate change,” according to a grant announcement posted Friday.

In partnership with the U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad, India, the State Department wants to “create and spread awareness on key climate change issues.” The organization who eventually gets the award will research topics, conduct focus groups and create storyboards for the video series. The U.S. consulate in India will assist in the project by coordinating with locals and approving final content.

The State Department wants to do the project right, as “visual mediums tend to create a strong impression.” Whatever organization receives the award must work with a local Indian director. The grant could also support the local economy, as the grant could be awarded to an Indian non-profit organization.

As a developing country, India has struggled to commit the same level of support to the global fight against climate change that other, more developed nations have promised. “While concerns about air pollution are widespread in India, the connection to climate change and the burning of fossil fuels and wood (as opposed to moving towards clean energy that reduces air pollution) is less understood,” the grant notice says.

Read the full article @ the Libertarian Republic

Why Pune Does a Good Job with Municipal Waste Management?

All of India’s metropolises are grappling with problems of pollution, poor air quality, no sewage treatment and inadequate solid waste disposal. We ignore the issues until they suddenly erupt in the form of frequent fires at overused dumping grounds (Mumbai), lakes frothing with toxic foam that hit the streets or mass death of fish (Bengaluru), cities being flooded (Chennai) or having to resort to extreme traffic restraints (Delhi). Here are four things that seem to be working in Pune where the integrated SWM effort has ensured high (50%-55%) segregation at source in a city that generates 1600-1700mtd (metric tonnes a day) of waste every day.
  1. Right Man for the Job: Committed and dynamic individuals drive change. In Pune, joint municipal commissioner, Suresh Jagtap is the driving force and seems totally committed to the 4Rs (reduction, reuse, recycle and recover) of sustainable development. Concerned Punekars acknowledge that there is genuine ‘stakeholder engagement’ and accountability that extends from rag-pickers’ collectives, to NGOs, citizens’ groups, educational institution and elected corporators. This is through increased transparency and a third-party audit by three educational institutions who produce a well publicised colour-coded monthly scorecard on how each corporator’s constituency has fared on the SWM front. 
  2. Multiple Solutions: PMC has combined an integrated approach with a decentralised waste management strategy that encourages NGOs and private sector participation. It has 25 decentralised bio-methane plants which produce 600kw of electricity and compost; the 300tpd NEX plant that converts food waste to bio-CNG, 300TPB (total plumbum) vermi-compost and compost projects (Ajinkya Biofert and Disha), and the Rochem Separation Systems which processes mixed waste to produce 300tpd producing RDF (refuse derived fuel). It also has 13 smaller composting plants. Townships such as the unique Magarpatta City in Pune also take pride in being near-zero garbage as just a part of its focus on eco-sustainability. Key to efficient waste sorting and collection are large organisations such as SWACH (Solid Waste Handlers and Collectors’ Society), at the ground level.
  3. Incentives & Fees: Segregation of waste has been made mandatory for all residents with the levy of user charges. At the same time, there is a 5% tax rebate for those who have onsite waste disposal facilities. PMC makes it a point to highlight and celebrate those who adopt innovative solutions and practices in SWM and sanitation, through awards and recognition. 
  4. Public-private Partnership: Part of Pune’s success in waste management is its ability to persuade, and work with, private CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives such as the Adar Poonawalla Clean City Movement (APCCM) which pledged Rs100 crore to the city’s waste management efforts. The NEX project, including the land, is fully funded by APCCM; in addition, it has contributed to awareness building, welfare measures for grassroots workers and providing litterbins and mechanised cleaning at specific public spots. The model is working well so far; the process of recycling waste to recover energy is complete.
Read the full article @ Money Life

821 Premature Deaths Estimated for Hong Kong in the First Half of 2016

It is time the government adopted measures to prevent more premature deaths in our beloved city. The premature deaths data were collected by the Hedley Environmental Index, published by the School of Public Health, the University of Hong Kong.

The Clean Air Network, a concerned green group in the city, said in mid-July that concentrations of nitrogen oxides in the air in the city have consistently surpassed maximum safe levels set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the last five years. In its mid-year review, Clean Air Network said the average roadside emissions of nitrogen oxides in the city's three business districts (Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok) were 2.5 times higher than WHO standards.

The Hedley Environmental Index estimated that a total of 23,378 doctors' visits at government clinics and hospitals were required due to pollution-related diseases on July 10, 2016, about three times the 7,735 visits recorded on July 15, 2015. Meanwhile, the visits cost the government HK$19.8 million on July 10 alone - up more than 200 percent from HK$6.13 million a year earlier, according to the Hedley index.

In short, it is imperative for the government to take swift and bold actions to control air pollution in the city and save precious lives. Curtailing the growth of the number of private cars is one aspect the government must consider implementing urgently. A cleaner city means happier and healthier people, which is conducive to higher productivity and economic output.

Read the full article @ China Daily

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bike Couriers Mapping Carbon Monoxide Pollution in London

A group of London bicycle couriers are to be equipped with portable carbon monoxide sensors under plans announced yesterday by Drayson Technologies to build "the world's most advanced air pollution map". The firm, founded by former Labour minister Lord Paul Drayson, has partnered with phone app courier company Gophr to deliver the project, which will see 50 couriers fitted with Drayson Technologies' CleanSpace Tags to monitor air pollution on their journeys across the capital.

As the bike couriers carry out their same-day deliveries, they are predicted to cover around 17,000 miles each month while collecting carbon monoxide data to help build a real-time map of London's air pollution levels, Drayson Technologies said. Couriers' journeys will be tracked via satellite using LoRa (long range) trackers developed by mobile satellite communications provider Inmarsat to provide real-time location and height data to compliment the air pollution readings.

Read the full article @ the Business Green

For Public Transportation, Hanoi Wants to Ban Bikes by 2025

Vietnam’s government plans to rid the congested streets in downtown Hanoi of motorbikes by 2025 to make room for more buses and metro lines — but residents areless than open to the change.

There are currently around half a million cars and 5 million motorbikes on the Hanoi streets, and the government estimates that economic growth will increase those numbers to 1 million cars and 7 million motorbikes by 2020. The streets are already crowded, and air pollution is bad enough that the Real Time Air Quality Index classifies the city as “unhealthy.”

“The traffic situation in Hanoi will become extremely complicated in the next four to five years,” Hanoi City Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung said at a public development meeting. “So we really need a timely solution to this.”

That solution includes building highway, bridges, tunnels, bus stations, along with doubling the number of buses and adding six new metro train lines by 2030. But it also includes banning motorbikes from the city center within ten years. In a city where less than 10 percent of residents use public transportation, the transition would be extreme.

In addition to not wanting to part with an integral mode of transportation, The Guardian reports that some see the move as unfair to those who cannot afford their own cars. Many are skeptical that the construction of the first two new metro lines will happen on schedule by 2020, since they have already faced delays.

What's Polluting Delhi's Air?

Air pollution in India is an issue, and city of Delhi (its capital) is one of the most studied city with a disproportionate share of media attention as compared to other cities within India. Yet, we do not seem to have decisive answers to potentially straightforward questions such as, how polluted is the city, what are the main sources, and where to start to control pollution in the city. This is an attempt to put things into perspective with a series of opinion pieces on these questions, on what Delhi (and its satellite cities) really need to improve and really need to know, so that they can clear the tag of “the most polluted city in the world” or keep it.

 An earlier post in the series focused on a “call for open air pollution data” in Delhi and other Indian cities. This is the second in the series – what are the sources of air pollution in Delhi? This is the most commonly asked question and also the most confusing and unanswered question.

 Before we start pointing fingers at various sources and laying down numbers, there are some basics that everybody needs to understand. I will try my best to make it as non-scientific as possible. Then, we will jump into the blame games.

First – there are many pollutants

Critical ones are particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone. We should never discuss them all at once, because all are very different in their chemical nature and different in the ways they might affect our health. Most importantly, never mix air pollutants with the greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and try to link up air quality and climate change in the same sentence. Only thing they have in common is that all of them originate from the same sources – anything burnt will produce at least one of these pollutants or all of them. How much of each of these pollutants is produced is also different, meaning a source attribution based on nitrogen oxides is not same as a source attribution based on particulate matter or carbon dioxide.

So, of these, if we have to pick one pollutant that is super critical for us, then it is particulate matter (PM). Some generally refer to this as dust, aerosols, and soot.

The PM size under 2.5 micron meter diameter is the most known harmful and measurable fraction, referred to as PM2.5. Its chemical composition has contributions from all the other gaseous components, such as, sulfur dioxide shows up as sulfate aerosols, nitrogen oxides show up as nitrate aerosols, volatile organic compounds after undergoing a series of chemical reactions with ozone, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide to show up as secondary organic aerosols.

In simple language, focusing our efforts on PM2.5 to identify urban pollution sources will be enough, without mixing messages by discussing everything under the sun.

Second – PM10 and PM2.5 are different

PM10 is particulate matter under 10 micron meter diameter; PM2.5 is particulate matter under 2.5 micron meter diameter.

PM2.5 is a subset of PM10 and the ratio varies from city to city and source to source.

PM10 was, for the longest time, the only size fraction measured in India. PM2.5 was added to the list of criteria pollutants in 2009, and now measured in 20+ Indian cities using continuous monitoring stations.

Most of the PM2.5 pollution is combustion based. For example, most of the PM pollution from diesel, petrol, and CNG combustion falls under PM2.5; most of the open waste burning pollution, biomass burning pollution, and coal combustion at boilers, falls under PM2.5.

A good fraction of PM10 comes from mechanical processes – like dust resuspension. Close to 80% of the dust (that we commonly find on the roads) falls into the size fraction between PM2.5 and PM10. This is the reason for more dust in the measured PM10 samples and little dust in the measured PM2.5 samples.

Third – emission inventory is not pollution source attribution

Emissions is what comes out of the vehicle tail pipes, chimneys at the huts, industries, and power plants, trash burning, and the resuspension of dust on the roads. This is commonly measured and reported as grams of pollutant emitted per km of vehicle travel, grams of pollutant emitted per a kilo of fuel burnt, or sometimes grams of pollutant emitted per hour.

Pollution on the other hand is what we breathe and it is measured and reported as mirco-gm/m3. After the pollutants are free of their source, in other words, all the emissions are in the atmosphere, they get mixed, moved, and mangled, and end up as pollution. The net pollution that we measure at the monitoring stations can be due to all local emissions or sometimes every bit of the pollution could be a non-local emission source (examples to follow).

Fourth – diffused vs. point and local vs. non-local sources

urban air pollutionThe ground level sources like vehicle exhaust, road re-suspended dust, open waste burning, residential cooking and heating, commonly referred to as diffused sources, tend to influence the immediate vicinity and then they diffuse and disperse to the neighborhoods.

The others like industries and big power plants with stacks, their emissions have the tendency to move farther distances (depending on the local meteorological conditions) and end up as pollution not only where they are sourced, but also away.

So, in numbers, if we are looking at an emissions inventory for a city; it is possible the city may have only the diffused sources in its administrative boundary. For example, in case of Delhi, all the coal-fired thermal power plants are outside Delhi (within 20-30 km), all the brick kilns are outside Delhi, a majority of the industries are outside Delhi, which means when an emissions inventory is put together by drawing up an administrative boundary for a city, we are missing out on what we eventually breathing. Another example, come November every year, we point fingers to Punjab and Haryana, because of the crop residue burning. Is this part of the emissions inventory for Delhi – NO. However, it is part of the pollution that we are breathing, because of long range transport.

Fifth – working domain size

What is the area being covered for the emissions inventory calculations? This varies with the group conducting the study; and accordingly the results. Often this is the administrative boundary, because the city authorities like it that way. So, it is not fair to compare the emission inventory studies under the same lens, unless, the studies are for the same working domain.

It is our opinion an area of 80 km x 80 km with the Delhi metropolitan authority in the center, is a good working domain, which will cover all the known sources of pollution, which have the potential to influence the air quality in Delhi - power plants, brick kilns, and industries, besides the usual suspects - vehicle exhaust, road dust, cooking and heating, open waste burning, and diesel generator sets.

On the other hand, ambient sampling based pollution attribution doesn’t have this restriction, because the analysis starts with what is in the atmosphere (sampling), followed by the analysis of the samples for chemical markers, and statistically matched to the sources for attribution.

Sixth – city is not just roads

If all the measurements and modeling work was conducted around roads, then yes, all the pollution measured and modeled will be from vehicle exhaust and road dust. However, we have to keep in mind that roads are only part of the urban infrastructure and there are hundreds of other activities, simultaneously underway, besides vehicles on the road. For Delhi, roads account for less 20% of the urban land, with the rest covered with residential, industrial, natural, and recreational activities.

what are we looking for? 

If the goal is to find out what is polluting Delhi, then stop looking at the emission inventories and start looking at the pollution based source attribution.

The emission inventories give you an idea of the sources. If the mix of sources is not that diverse, it is possible that the attributions we find in the emissions will be similar to those we find in the ambient pollution. However, in case Delhi, this is not possible. The mix of sources in Delhi and its satellite cities is very diverse and the city is located such that the influence of the long range transport is often and large.
particulate source apportionment
How do we conduct pollution based source attribution?

Ideally, a large number of ambient samples should be collected from across the city, analysed for chemical profiles, and then statistically matched with a set of source profiles (knowing which sources are likely to influence the ambient pollution), to establish the source shares. This is what we refer to as top-down source apportionment. This is an expensive route (from sampling to analysis), but also the most accurate route. (download an illustrated note on how to conduct source apportionment)

Second method is based on emission inventory, in its full spatial and temporal gridded form, for a representative urban airshed, processed through a dispersion model on top of a 3-dimensional meteorological field. With a series of such simulations, one can establish pollution based source attributions. This is what we refer to as bottom-up source apportionment. Except for the computational needs, this is relatively less expensive, with one main constraint – the emissions inventory must cover the influential urban airshed and account for long range transport (especially in case of Delhi).

Both the methodologies are important and needed, as they compliment each other, and drive us to understand the true shares of various sources. For example, diesel burnt in the trucks, cars, buses, and generator sets will produce very similar chemical profile, which will be hard to distinguish if there is no bottom-up understanding. Similarly, biomass burnt in the fields and in the cookstoves will produce very similar chemical profile, which will be hard to distinguish if there is no bottom-up understanding.

In India, since 2000, we counted 60 top-down source apportionment studies, of which 70% are from 7 cities (Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Kanpur, Hyderabad, Raipur, and Mumbai) and Delhi takes the top spot with 20% of the overall studies. We summarized these in a journal article looking at the nature of air pollution in Indian cities.

what do we know? 

Based on ambient sampling and dispersion modelling, we can summarize the source attributions as below. Irrespective of all the confusion in the media (primarily stemming from combining emissions and pollution studies) studies conclude similar source shares, which make sense. For details on the study listed below, follow the links to access the full report/papers or send an email to the study contact person for more details. We are only summarizing the final results from each of the studies, as presented in the reports.

Study (1) CPCB 2010

This was a multi-city study conducted for both PM2.5 and PM10 samples, which were collected in year 2006-07. While the results from the PM2.5 samples were are not admissible (which blamed domestic LPG burning as a key urban pollution source), the results from PM10 samples made sense. We took the liberty of converting the PM10 shares into PM2.5 - assuming 15% of the dust in PM10 surviving in the PM2.5 fraction and 100% of all the other combustion sources surviving in the PM2.5 fraction. The pie graph below is an average of all samples reported in the CPCB (2010) study report.


Study (2) IIT-Kanpur (2015)

IIT Kanpur also conducted the CPCB (2010) study for Delhi and this 2015 study updated the analysis with new sample collection at six locations and two seasons (summer and winter), directly aimed at understanding the source contributions to PM2.5 pollution in Delhi. Contact person for the study details is Dr. Mukesh Sharma.

The source categories listed in this study were different from the study (1). So, we took the liberty of clubbing them for simplicity. For example, the secondary sulfate aerosols, from the chemical conversion of SO2 emissions, are likely to originate from coal and diesel consumption. Similarly, nitrate aerosols, from the chemical conversion of NOx emissions, are likely to originate from coal, diesel, and petrol combustion. Clubbed all the construction, soil, and road dust into one dust category.

Since, the categories are listed along the fuel lines, we can interpret that all the diesel and petrol is linked to the vehicle exhaust and diesel generator sets; biomass burning can be linked to the crop residue burning (especially for the winter months) and biomass used for cooking and heating; coal could be consumed at industries, cooking, and heating.

Study (3) Georgia-Tech (2007)

This is an older study conducted in four Indian cities for four seasons (see the original pie graphs). Contact person for the study details is Dr. Zohir Chowdhury. Download the study report published in the Journal of Geophysical Research and a summary report by the World Bank.

For simplicity, we clubbed the fuel categories to match the study (1) and (2) pies and averaged all the results to represent annual shares. Since, the categories are listed along the fuel lines, we can interpret that all the diesel and petrol is linked to the vehicle exhaust and diesel generator sets; biomass burning can be linked to the crop residue burning (especially for the winter months) and biomass used for cooking and heating; coal could be consumed at industries, cooking, and heating.

Study (4) UEinfo (2013)

The pie graph is an annual average based on emissions inventory and dispersion modelling, conducted at 1 km resolution for a working domain of 80 km x 80 km, including local sources like vehicle exhaust, dust resuspension, cooking and heating, power plants, industries, brick kilns, open waste burning, and diesel generator sets, and contributions from outside the modeling domain (dust storms, open biomass fires, and fossil fuel burning in the immediate vicinity of the modeling domain). Multiple dispersion model simulations were conducted to ascertain these shares by month and season. Details of the emissions inventory (spatially and temporally segregated) and modeled source apportionment are published as two journal articles – Atmospheric Environment and Environmental Development.

 An updated inventory is currently in use to model air quality forecasts over the National Capital Region; including particulate source apportionment on an hourly basis.

can we quantify pollution sources in Delhi? 

This is not an easy question to answer, but the fact remains that we have an idea based on these ambient sampling and dispersion modelling based studies, and all of them point to a certain range. On average, across the whole city
  • Vehicle exhaust is responsible for PM2.5 pollution up to 30%
  • Biomass burning (including seasonal open fires, cooking, and heating) is responsible for PM2.5 pollution up to 20%
  • Industries is responsible for PM2.5 pollution up to 20%
  • Soil and road dust is responsible for PM2.5 pollution up to 15%
  • Open waste burning is responsible for PM2.5 pollution up to 15%
  • Diesel generators is responsible for PM2.5 pollution up to 10%
  • Power plants is responsible for PM2.5 pollution up to 5%
(sum is not 100% - this is an upper estimate for all the sources)


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Shipping Air Pollution Causes 24,000 Deaths a Year in East Asia

Ship traffic is often overlooked compared to smog-producing cars and factories, but it has more than doubled off east Asia since 2005.

A boom in shipping is aggravating air pollution in China and other nations in east Asia, causing thousands of deaths a year in a region with eight of the world’s 10 biggest container ports, scientists have said. Ship traffic, often overlooked compared to cars and factories that are far bigger causes of smog, has more than doubled off east Asia since 2005 and some pollution from the fuel oil of ships wafts inland, scientists said on Monday. The Chinese-led study estimated that sulphur dioxide, which generates acid rain, and other pollution from ships caused an estimated 24,000 premature deaths a year in east Asia, mainly from heart and lung diseases and cancer.

About three-quarters of deaths were in China, and others mainly in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and South Korea, according to the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change based on satellite data-tracking of almost 19,000 vessels. The death toll is a tiny though rising share of an estimated one million deaths caused annually by air pollution in east Asia, the study found. Given many uncertainties, the number of deaths could be as low as 14,500 or as high as 37,500, it said.

Read the full article @ the Guardian

Delhi is Going Off the Track by Banning Old Vehicles and Allowing for More Newer or Secondhand Vehicles

The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) crusade to improve the quality of Delhi’s air has very often meant a single point agenda: Clamping down on diesel vehicles. In April last year it had said diesel vehicles older than 10 years should not ply on the city’s roads. The green body’s directions created confusion for authorities in Delhi while it did precious little to improve the city’s seriously polluted air. The Delhi Traffic Police and the RTO were confounded as to who would implement the tribunal’s orders and the police found out that issuing challans did not deter diesel car drivers from bringing their vehicles back on the road. The NGT has now asked the RTO to de-register all diesel vehicles that are more than 10 years old.

See what's polluting Delhi?

There is no quarrel with the contention that diesel vehicles pollute. However, the extent to which diesel vehicles are responsible for Delhi’s bad air is open to debate. An IIT- Kanpur study notes that they are responsible for only 2 per cent of Delhi’s pollution. Other studies, including those by environmental groups, cite a higher figure. However, given the grave proportions that pollution in Delhi has assumed, corrective measures are called for. The significance of the NGT’s directive should be seen from that perspective. And it’s here that the green body’s directive fails to hit the right target. While on paper, it may mean that thousands of vehicles could go off the road, it’s anybody’s guess if that will happen in reality. Earlier bans have failed in their objectives. Vehicle owners could well find it convenient to register their 10-year-old automobiles elsewhere in the NCR — Gurgaon or Noida, areas not bound by the NGT’s directives.

Delhi’s traffic anyhow does not comprise only vehicles registered in the city. Commercial as well as personal vehicles from the NCR — as well as other states — ply on Delhi’s roads. The court order does not distinguish between vehicles used for personal purposes and those that transport necessities. There is also the danger that the order may mean that Delhi will be transporting its pollution elsewhere. The aged vehicles from the capital may find their way to second-hand car markets in other parts of the country, especially smaller towns — that are not doing too well on the pollution front. Tackling Delhi’s pollutions requires a long-term vision, that also encompasses regulating diesel vehicles. Such vehicles can be phased out. But knee-jerk reactions like bans will do more harm than good.

Read the full article @ the Indian Express

Fighting Motorcycles and Waiting for Metro Lines in Hanoi

Hanoi, a city with more motorbikes than households, has to contend with heavy congestion and frequent traffic accidents. In recent years, studies have named it among the worst cities in Asia for air pollution. In May this year, Vietnamese media reported that the US embassy’s air quality monitor in Hanoi registered a “hazardous” spike in particulate matter, reportedly reaching a level seven times that recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Though the government hopes the metro can tackle both traffic and environmental issues at once, the project has faced numerous delays and setbacks. What’s more, convincing Hanoians to give up their motorbikes could turn out to be the biggest challenge yet.

In 2008, more than 80% of journeys in the city were carried out by motorbikes and scooters – and a fast-growing share of the population is opting for cars. Currently there are roughly 4.9 million motorbikes and scooters on Hanoi’s roads. The use of bicycles, once the dominant transport mode in the city, decreased dramatically as motorbikes and cars became more popular: in 1995, 47% of journeys were made by bicycle; in 2008, the figure had dropped to only 3%.

Hanoi’s Transport Plan aims to increase the share of public transport from the current low figure of 9% of trips, to above 60% by 2030, by which time Hanoi is slated to have six new metro lines and three Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines. But the ambitions get even steeper. Last month, Hanoi’s Party Committee outlined plans to ban motorbikes from the downtown area by 2025, in line with improved public transport. A total downtown ban of the vehicles would require a huge lifestyle shift for most residents – and put an enormous amount of pressure on the new metro system. None of the locals I speak to regard the 2025 plan as feasible.

Read the full article @ The Guardian

Infographic - Understanding Road Transport Emissions in Delhi

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Managing Air Pollution in Teheran

The working group is comprised of ministers of interior, oil, transport, industry, energy, and economy, as well as directors of the Management and Planning Organization and the Department of Environment, governor of the Central Bank, police chief, and mayors of the targeted municipalities. Approved by the cabinet of the ministers, the working group is tasked with monitoring, coordinating and taking measures to implement a comprehensive plan to mitigate air pollution in the country. In line with the plan to abate the air pollution, the Central Bank of Iran is also demanded to pay a 22-trillion-rial (nearly $630 million) loan with 20 percent interest rate to finance Iran’s one-year clunker replacement scheme. It’s been some years Tehran and some other metropolises such as Isfahan are struggling with air pollution all year round. The pollution appears in different shapes and forms. Once they are particles less than or equal to 10 or 2.5 micrometers in diameter which sometimes are caused by hotspots located either outside or inside the country that cripple the cities mostly located in southern and western Iran and makes it difficult for the citizens to breathe. It is not easy to respond to these dust storms right away as they usually need to be dealt with on international level. In other cases they are resulted from the cars which usually are considered as clunkers that are abundant in the country and partially responsible for the air pollution as well. There are some scrappage schemes for such cars in Iran as well and some banks also finance them.

Read the full article @ the Tehran Times

Friday, July 08, 2016

Air Quality in Agra (Forecasts, Updated Everyday)

This is modeled air quality for India in forecast mode. The reports for all the 640 Indian districts are updated everyday @ India Air Quality.Info

See what is happening at the regional scale, which is conducted as part of the all India air pollution forecasting program, hosted @ The animation below is from a WRF-CAMx simulation conducted @ 0.25x0.25 degree resolution (approximately, 25km x 25km).

Taxing Diesel Vehicles in UK for Pollution Control

The “diesel-gate” scandal of last year, in which Volkswagen was revealed to be rigging emission tests, has focused public and policy maker attention on the issue of harmful emissions from diesel vehicles. Since the late 1980s, diesel cars and vans have made up an increasing proportion of new vehicles sold in Britain and across the European Union. In the UK they now represent almost four in ten cars on the road, compared to closer to one in 20 in the early 1990s.

The move to diesel, an area in which European car manufacturers have always had an advantage over their America and Japanese rivals, was strongly encouraged by policy makers through tax incentives and environmental regulations at both the national and the European level. There was a perception that, although diesel was known to have a bigger impact on air quality than petrol, it produced fewer carbon emissions and a switch to diesel would help slow climate change.

Since then three things have fundamentally changed. Advances in hybrid and electronic cars have produced a form of mass transport which avoids a trade-off between climate change and air quality, the emissions scandal has shown that this trade off may have always been worse than assumed, and there has been a growing recognition that increased NOX levels from diesel vehicles are creating what has been called a public health emergency. In the UK alone, air pollution is contributing to 40,000 to 52,000 premature deaths annually.

This is the background to a new policy report produced for Green Budget Europe (GBE), the campaigning organisation fighting to shift taxation away from labour and on to pollution both in Britain and in Europe. It was launched at a roundtable assembled by Prospect in collaboration with GBE.

Read the full report @ Prospect Magazine

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Coal Dust Responsible for 23,000 Premature Deaths in EU

Coal dust is responsible for about 22,900 premature deaths per year in the E.U., according to a report released Tuesday. This report is the first analysis to show how coal dust travels, damaging the health in countries hundreds of kilometers away. In addition to premature deaths, coal plants were responsible for 11,800 new cases of chronic bronchitis and 21,900 hospital admissions in 2013. The premature deaths were linked to three main pollutants: particulate matter, ground-level ozone, and nitrogen dioxide. Particulate matter, known as PM, caused 83 percent of premature deaths from various causes such as stroke, heart disease, chronic lung disease, or lung cancer.

Read the full article @ Think Progress

South Korea is Retiring 10 Coal-fired Power Plants

The Korea government said it will shut down 10 aged coal-fired power plants in the coming 10 years and no longer build new ones as part of its efforts to reduce air pollution and tackle worsening fine dust emissions. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said that it will close 10 coal stations aged 30 years or over, with a combined capacity of 3.3 million kilowatts, one by one when they reach the end of their respective operational life span.

Two power plants on the country's west coast will face the first shutdown in 2018, with the closure program to be completed by 2025. "We will not allow new coal plants to be built in the country," said Deputy Trade Minister Chae Hee-bong said in a briefing. "Only renewable green energy power stations will produce electricity in the country." The outdated coal plants have been singled out as the main culprits of fine dust, along with old diesel vehicles. Out of 53 coal power plants operating in South Korea, 10 are over 30 years old.

Coal-powered electricity accounted for 28 percent of the country's total power production in 2015, following by nuclear power with 33 percent. The government will inject 2 trillion won ($1.73 billion) to help retrofit eight coal generators aged 20 year old or over to improve their efficiency and reduce sulfuric acid emissions. The remaining 35 plants will be equipped with desulfurization system, added the ministry.

The plan details the follow-up measures to the Korean government's efforts unveiled last month to control fine dust which has recently emerged as one of the biggest threats to public health, as the country has increasingly become more dust-polluted. Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan said the latest plan will decrease fine dust by 24 percent by 2030.

Read the full article @ the Korean Herald