Monday, October 31, 2016

Globally 600,000 Children Under Five Years Die (UNICEF)

“Air pollution is a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under five every year – and it threatens the lives and futures of millions more every day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Pollutants don’t only harm children’s developing lungs – they can actually cross the blood-brain barrier and permanently damage their developing brains – and, thus, their futures. No society can afford to ignore air pollution.”

The study also examines the heavy toll of indoor pollution, commonly caused by use of fuels like coal and wood for cooking and heating, which mostly affects children in low-income, rural areas. Together, outdoor and indoor air pollution are directly linked to pneumonia and other respiratory diseases that account for almost one in 10 under-five deaths, making air pollution one of the leading dangers to children's health.

Children are more susceptible than adults to both indoor and outdoor air pollution as their lungs, brains and immune systems are still developing and their respiratory tracks are more permeable. Young children also breathe faster than adults, and take in more air relative to their body weight. The most disadvantaged, who already tend to have poorer health and inadequate access to health services, are the most vulnerable to the illnesses caused by polluted air.

Read the full press release @ UNICEF

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

ESCAPE - Study Links Hyper Tension to Air Pollution

People who live in areas with polluted air increase their risk for developing hypertension, a leading risk factor for the development of heart disease. Known as high blood pressure, the hypertension study is the largest of its kind to establish the deadly link. A recent study looked at hypertension in 41,000 people in five different countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Spain – for five to eight years. It is part of the long-term “Europe Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects,” known as ESCAPE, which focuses on health problems associated with pollution.

At the hypertension study, beginning in 2008, none of the participants reported having high blood pressure or taking medicine to control it. By 2011, 6,200 people reported having developed hypertension and started taking blood-pressure lowering drugs. Most lived in urban areas where air pollution is highest. Air pollution is measured in micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter. The researchers found that for every five micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter, hypertension increased by one-fifth or 22 percent in people living in the most polluted areas.

Epidemiologist Barbara Hoffmann, who works for the Center for Health and Society at Heinrich-Heine University in Germany and led the study, says many of these cases of high blood pressure could be prevented. “So this is a very important result if you can see that something that you can actually change. I mean we can actually reduce air pollution, can have such an influence on such an important health outcome,” said Hoffman. The findings were published in the European Heart Journal.

Read the full press release @ Voice of America

Improving Power Generation Efficiency in India

India, like any other developing country, cannot overlook the pivotal role of the power sector in fuelling its overall development. All other sectors require a constant and reliable supply of electricity for the economy to function and grow. What sets the country apart though is the fact that it is the fifth largest producer and consumer of electricity with a capacity of 302 gigawatts (GW). From a meagre 1,743 megawatt hour (MWh) in 1950-51, the gross electricity generation boomed to 278,733 MWh in 2015, yet India is not a power surplus country even in the present coverage where around 1/4th of its total population is still deprived of access to electricity.

Currently, the estimated average gap between supply and demand of electricity (peak demand) is about 14%. The transmission and distribution losses are estimated between 26% and 32%. With rapid urbanization and industrialization, this gap is bound to rise fast. The distribution of power generation through different sources, however, is uneven. The thermal power contribution to this is around 63%, followed by hydropower contributing around 25%. The share of nuclear power is the smallest with 3%, and the power generation through renewable sources contributes the remaining 9%. The distribution of power generation amongst various states and regions in India is also highly uneven.

One of the ways to improve the efficiency of an existing thermal power plant can be by reducing this consumption by installing latest technology and infrastructure. For e.g. ensuring that the plants are equipped with the variable frequency drive so that the plant uses less electricity while running on half-capacity mode. Thirdly, the maintenance time and volume needs to be cut down.

There are several areas on which to focus for e.g. reducing flue gas heat losses, improving the air pre-heater seal, optimization of turbine steam parameters and operation, using boiler feedwater pump turbine and flexible heat regenerative technology together with maintaining high efficiency. Moreover, appropriate IT organizational structure should be developed along with management information services (MIS). There is also an urgent need for the development of IT modules to cater to various functional requirements such as computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), materials and stores management system (MSMS), operation plant performance management system (OPPMS), business planning module, finance and accounting (F&A) and human resource development modules etc.

Promotion of energy conservation and increased use of renewable energy are the twin planks of a sustainable energy supply. In an article, titled 'Biomass gasi?cation for decentralized power generation: The Indian perspective', the authors Buljit Buragohain, Pinakeswar Mahanta, Vijayanand S Moholkar of the Centre for Energy, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, claim that the vast potential of biomass power remains almost unused, and there is an urgent need of utilization of this resource through more efficient technologies such as biomass gasi?cation. Likewise, there is a need for implementing newer fields of technological studies such as energy systems engineering work to provide a methodological scientific framework to arrive at realistic integrated solutions to complex energy problems, by adopting a holistic, systems-based approach, especially at the decision making and planning stage.

Read the full article @ Economic Times

Tezpur is the Among the Clean Cities

The small city of Tezpur in the tea region of Assam has become India’s cleanest city and its residents are breathing easier because of it. Here, since the last WHO air-quality report in 2014, PM10 pollution, caused by dust particles, has been reduced by close to 85 percent — a vast improvement in a country that has been focusing on rapid urbanization and industrial development. The residents of Tezpur have only themselves to thank for this. Over the years, they’ve been making conscious efforts to go green. Trees are being planted, waste is segregated into either organic and inorganic, trucks are being re-routed out of the city center, and residents are speaking up about their environment. But crucially, the local industry has cut back on or switched entirely away from coal to cleaner energy.

CNN’s “Eco Solutions” visited the Matiapahar tea plantation during the harvest season and witnessed the change first hand. Here, heavy duty machinery that had been powered by coal now runs on liquefied petroleum gas. Even though LPG is produced from fossil fuels, it produces virtually no particulate pollution compared to burning coal. In other words, it’s basically smoke free.

Arabhinda Bhattacharjyam, the manager at Matiapahar Tea Garden, tells us it’s a win-win for the environment, the workers inside the factory, and for the product itself. “We have used liquefied petroleum gas since 2002,” he says. “Now the quality of the tea is much better. Now we are selling good quality tea in the market.” With cleaner air, the quality of the tea improved and the price of tea jumped from 45 to 67 rupees per kilo – making LPG a sound environmental and business decision. In fact, the move has become so popular that 40 tea gardens in Assam have entirely dispensed with coal, using LPG as their main source of fuel. These efforts go beyond tea gardens. Stone cutting mills and waste paper mills, some of the main industries of Tezpur, have found ingenious ways of controlling air pollution. In the former, water is sprinkled every six hours to contain dust particles. In the latter, rice husks – which are locally available, 30 percent cheaper than coal, and do not emit a high amount of particulate matter – are being used as fuel.

Read the full article @ The Diplomat

Anti Fire Crackers Campaign in Delhi

Environment Minister Imran Hussain on Tuesday reviewed the action being taken by various stakeholder departments and agencies including the Environment Department, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Delhi Police, Licensing Unit, Petroleum & Exposure Safety Organization (PESO), District Magistrates/SDMs etc.

The review was conducted to make the 'Anti-Fire Crackers Campaign' successful, to control air and noise pollution effectively due to fire crackers during the forthcoming Diwali festival. The meeting was attended by senior officers of Environment Department and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) along with SDMs of all districts who are the designated authority as per notification under Noise Pollution Rules 2000 and also by Senior Officers of Delhi Police and PESO.

The Delhi Government has constituted 11 teams (district wise) headed by area SDMs and assisted by Executive Engineers (DPCC) to curb the sale of illegally imported/Chinese fire crackers in the market, which are the main source of spreading toxicity in the air during Diwali.

More @ India Today

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dusty Roads in Hyderabad

Air pollution levels in the city have become a cause for worry because this is one of the major parameters in the Centre’s Swachh survey of India. The city records above permissible limits in respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) due to dust from under-repair roads and carbon monoxide pollution caused by vehicular exhaust.

Of the five parameters on which air pollution is judged, Hyderabad does poorly in two while rating as average on the others. In the 2015 Swachh survey, Hyderabad stood at the 19th position. “The other parameters include sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide (gases emanating from industrial sector). On this front, the city is in the safe zone as the two gases are within standard levels. The major concern is RSPM which is the result of the dust from roads that enters the bloodstream and causes various lung-related diseases and eye problems,” said environmentalist W.B. Prasanna Kumar,

The second issue of major concern is the carbon monoxide from vehicular emissions and from burning of leaf litter. “There is no separate disposal system for leaf litter. The waste, when burnt, releases carbon monoxide. RSPM and carbon monoxide are above the standard limits which is a matter of concern for us,” Mr Prasanna Kumar said.

Read the full article @ Deccan Chronicle The modeled source contributions to the ambient particulate pollution (PM2.5) in Hyderabad district is presented below. The calculations are conducted in forecast mode. More district reports @ India Air Quality.Info

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

# No Cracker Diwali

A message from Public Health Foundation of India

Air Quality in Nagpur (Maharashtra, India)

While industries, power plants, mines and vehicles are blamed for increasing exposure to air pollution, there are many lesser-known sources which are significantly poisoning the quality of air. Virendra Sethi, professor at Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, whose 40 research papers have been published in various international journals, talks about what really is adding to rural and urban air pollution.

It is a myth that pollution is completely dependent on population or number of vehicles in a city. There are various other factors that degrade a city's ambient quality of air. In case of Nagpur, it is surrounded by thermal power stations in Koradi, Khaparkheda, Butibori, Mauda and industries in Hingna and Butibori. Depending on the wind direction, pollutants from all these sources come in the city, this increasing it pollution levels. Read the full article @ Times of India

Below are some extracts for the city of Nagpur, from the air quality forecasting system for India.

Details of the emission fields and modeling architecture is available @

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fire INventory from NCAR (FINN) - A Daily Open Fire Emissions Extracted for the Indian Subcontinent

Open biomass burning makes up an important part of the total global emissions of greenhouse gases, reactive trace gases, and particulate matter. Although episodic in nature and highly variable, open biomass burning emissions can contribute to local, regional, and global air quality problems and climate forcings. The Fire INventory from NCAR (FINN) model provides high resolution, global emission estimates from open burning; these emissions have been developed specifically to provide input needed for modeling atmospheric chemistry and air quality in a consistent framework at scales from local to global. The inventory framework produces daily emission estimates at a horizontal resolution of ~1 km2. The product differs from other inventories because it provides a unique combination of high temporal and spatial resolution, global coverage, and estimates for a large number of chemical species. Read the full description of the product @ NCAR

Below is an extract of the daily emissions file covering the Indian Subcontinent. More details on how we are utilizing this product for air quality analysis and forecasting is @

CNG in India

In its efforts to move towards a gas-based economy, the NDA government plans to increase natural gas contribution towards India’s energy mix to 15% from the current 6.5%. Read the full article @ VCC

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Night Time Temperatures are Dropping Over the Indo-Gangetic Plain

We know how bad the winter time air pollution can be in these parts, especially due to the need for space heating (indoors and outdoors), for which biomass and waste burning is equally responsible. Here is a snapshot of average night temperatures forecast on October 11th, 2016 - is this the start of the heating season?

Forecasts are updated every day @ 6 PM, Indian Standard Time @

Winter Worsens Delhi's Pollution Levels

Blame games are beginning to creep up in the media, with no real action for the past one year.

See the article @ Mail Today
See the article @ Financial Express
See the article @ India Live Today

Wind are slowing down - see nighttime and daytime forecasts for the next three days.
Temperature are dropping, triggering the need for space heating - see nighttime and daytime forecasts for the next three days.

This is modeled source contributions to the ambient particulate pollution (PM2.5) in South Delhi district (one of the 14 districts in the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi). The calculations are conducted in forecast mode. More NCR district reports @ Delhi Air Quality.Info

  • DUST.ERO = wind blown dust from the dry and arid regions, dependent of hourly meteorological conditions
  • OPEN.FIRES = open biomass burning (both agricultural lands and forest areas), a seasonal affair linked to dry conditions and agricultural clearing patterns
  • TRANS.PASS = contribution of passenger vehicles (2Ws, 3Ws, 4Ws, Taxis, and Buses)
  • TRANS.FRGT = contribution of freight vehicles (heavy and light trucks, and non-road vehicles)
  • RD.DUST = contribution of re-suspended dust on the roads due to vehicle movement and construction activities
  • PP.DGS = contribution of power plants and in-situ diesel generator sets
  • INDUS = contribution of industrial activities
  • HOUS.HLD = contribution of domestic cooking, space heating, water heating, and lighting
  • WST.BURN = contribution of open waste burning
  • OTHERS = contribution of aviation, shipping, biogenics, etc..
A number of source apportionment studies were conducted in Delhi (more in Delhi than in any of the other Indian cities). We summarized the known particulate pollution source apportionment studies, as an open article, "what's polluting Delhi's air".
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).

Construction Sites Are Never Covered with Tarpaulin

Chandan Singh, from Hermu in Jharkhand, works at a construction site on Golf Course road. He handles cement with his bare hands and says he finds it hard to breath due to the dust. “All my life I have worked at construction sites. As these sites are spreading, it is sometimes difficult to sleep and people here cough for months,” he says. In the absence of measures to control pollution from construction sites, thousands of labourers like Chandan have to survive in hazardous conditions every day.

According to the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) guidelines, civic authorities should take measures to ensure toxins from construction machinery and vehicles, and construction dust are not released in the air. Similarly, the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) ordered that for construction activity beyond 2 lakh sqft, clearance has to be taken from the government on 70 environmental safety parameters notified by MoEF.

As per construction norms, sites should be covered with a tarpaulin sheet to prevent spread of dust. But on ground, these norms are nowhere to be seen. “Only by implementing norms can the pollution levels be reduced. Though several factors are responsible for air pollution, dust from construction sites in the region is a major contributor,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy), CSE.

Read the full article @ Hindustan Times

Early Smog in Delhi

Hold your breath and read the full article @ Mail Today

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Open Fires in Northern India Creeping to Impact Air Quality

Check the calculated emissions from the FINN global inventory based on fire counts - a concentrated number of hot spots are now detectable over Punjab and Haryana and these emissions are dispersing far enough to detect their signature in Delhi. Below is our modeled source apportionment for South Delhi district from October 11th, 2016.

Modeled PM2.5 concentrations from October 11th, 2016 for the next three days (including all the emission sources). For more current updates from our forecasting program, please visit

Friday, October 07, 2016

Clean Air, but Ozone is Peaking in Beijing

Blue skies and white clouds are no longer a rare sight in my home city of Beijing. Public anger over China’s toxic smog has pushed the central and city governments to tackle high levels of deadly PM2.5 particulates that can contribute to heart and lung disease. A new report from Clean Air Asia shows the crackdown is working; it found an average drop of 14.1% in PM2.5 levels across 74 cities in 2015.

But blue skies do not necessarily equate to clean air. Ozone levels have risen significantly, especially in major cities, according to a report published in September by the Clean Air Alliance of China (CAAC). The 2016 China Air Quality Management Assessment shows ozone levels have bucked the general downward trend in pollution levels, and risen significantly in some cities.

Ozone levels in Beijing rose a staggering 26.6% in a year. In Jiangsu province, home to vast swathes of Shanghai’s industrial hinterland, they rose 8.4%. These problems areas are China’s most developed areas. Beijing has a higher level of car ownership than anywhere else in China. And Beijing’s average duration of congestion per day rose to three hours in 2015, up from one hour and fifty-five minutes in 2014. More gridlock means more exhaust emissions. In Jiangsu and Shanghai, air quality suffers from the combination of high levels of car ownership and large industrial sectors.

Read the full article @ China Dialogue

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Peaking Air Pollution Levels in Hanoi

Hanoi’s air pollution was recorded as the second worst in the world Wednesday morning by a global air quality watchdog. The Real-time Air Quality Index, which compiles information from local authorities globally, ranked the city as “very unhealthy” based on data provided by the U.S. Embassy’s monitoring station. Only India’s Varanasi ranked higher on the index. Hanoi’s air pollution is frequently blamed on traffic congestion. It is reported to be home to 5.5 million vehicles with 700 motorbikes for each kilometer/mile of road.

A recent study from the environment ministry put Hanoi’s nitrogen dioxide levels at 1.3 times permitted levels and particulate matters, which are defined as airborne particles of less than 10 micrometers in length, at 1.4 times the limit. High levels of smog in recent years have also made face masks a common site in the city, with carbon filter masks particularly popular. Duc Nguyen, a 20-year-old Vietnamese photographer living in Hanoi, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that air pollution is a big concern for him. “It was bad a couple of months before but its even worse now,” he said, adding that he blames the pollution on recurring health aliments. “I feel sleepy, breathless and my muscles are tired all the time.”

Read the full article @ World Bulletin

Effect of Air Pollution on Office Workers Performance

For anyone who has tried jogging through smog, the physically sapping impacts of air pollution should come as no surprise. But pollution doesn’t just slow down runners, it hampers workers too. Research by Tom Chang of the University of Southern California and colleagues found that pear packers working indoors were slowed by air pollution even at levels well below current air-quality standards. Might sedentary office workers indoors, also be slowed down by poor air quality?

In a second paper, Mr Chang and his colleagues studied China, where air pollution is a major problem. China releases a daily air-pollution index (API)—also referred to as an air-quality index—which rates air quality based on the health risk it represents. Anything above 100 is bad news. In Shanghai the index periodically hits 150, putting everyone’s health at risk. To establish the correlation between productivity and air pollution, the authors focus on office workers in two call centres in Shanghai and Nantong, where productivity can be measured by counting the number of calls workers handle per day.

What they find isn’t good. On days with higher air pollution, workers spend more time on breaks and complete fewer calls. On average, a 10% increase in the API was associated with a 0.35% decrease in number of calls handled per day. That quickly adds up: workers in the call centres studied are estimated to be 6% more productive on low-pollution days than on days when pollution is high. The likely culprit for office workers is particulate matter, which can easily enter buildings through windows and vents. The smallest of these particles enter the blood stream and the central nervous system, affecting concentration and mental performance.

Read the full article @ The Economist

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

How Poorer Countries Suffer More than the Rest

On Sunday, India ratified its accession to the Paris climate accords on the 147th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. President Obama congratulated India in a tweet, saying that "Gandhiji believed in a world worthy of our children. In joining the Paris Agreement, @narendramodi & the Indian people carry on that legacy," using a Hindi honorific for the man who championed Indian self-rule and stewardship of its land. The Paris agreement is the international community's biggest push yet to limit carbon emissions and other forms of pollution. Unfortunately, if worthiness is measured by being able to live in a world where the air one breathes does not spread disease and blacken one's lungs, then we are far from it.

A World Health Organization report last week said that 92 percent of people worldwide breathe unhealthy air and that about 3 million deaths a year — mostly from cardiovascular, pulmonary and other noncommunicable diseases — stemmed from high levels of air pollution. The number of people at risk rises to 98 percent in urban areas of low- and middle-income countries. Nearly 2 million of the deaths brought on early by pollution are in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region, according to the report, compared with 333,000 in Europe and the Americas. Read the full report @ Washington Post

Delhi Trying to Stop Stubble Burning

The Central Pollution Control board (CPCB) on Sunday convened a meeting of all member secretaries to devise an action plan to “effectively” and “strictly” monitor any incidence of burning of crop stubble in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. The phenomenon, which impacts the whole of north India can be substantially reduced, if not stopped, only if states coordinate better with each other, say experts. “This phenomenon begins to appear from around the second week of October. Despite a ban on burning wheat and paddy residue, farmers have been found flouting the norm. The respective authorities even send notices but to no avail. Hence, every state has been asked to heighten its vigil,” said an official who was present at the CPCB meeting. Read the full article @ Hindustan Times

Also see, what's polluting Delhi's air?

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Kolkata Ranked 4th Worst Polluted City

Coarse dust particles - a byproduct of construction activities - have made Kolkata the fourth most polluted ‘megacity’ in the world, a recent report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) claims. While the report has placed Delhi at the top of the list, Cairo and Dhaka occupy the second and third positions respectively. Kolkata comes fourth just ahead of Mumbai. Read more @ Hindustan Times and track pollution in your city with this real-time air quality map

According to the report the PM10 level in Kolkata during this pseriod was nearly seven times the limit prescribed by WHO. If one considers the Indian safety limits, which is less stringent, Kolkata’s PM10 pollution level is more than double. These particles can cause asthma attacks, aggravate bronchitis and other lung diseases, and reduce the body’s ability to fight infections, said doctors. The report is based on the presence of such particles in the air of the city between 2011 and 2015. This list was prepared solely on the basis of PM10 level, and other pollutants such as PM2.5, NOx, SOx, CO2 etc were not included. If all Indian cities are taken into account the Gwallior reported the highest pollution. (But it is not a megacity.)

While the city’s PM10 level soared to around 140 micrograms per cubic metre, the WHO’s safety limit for this coarse pollutants is not more than 20 micrograms per cubic metre. The Indian safety limit is 60 micrograms per cubic metre. Delhi which has been ranked as the most polluted megacity has PM10 level as high as 240 micrograms per cubic metre. Mumbai which ranks fifth has PM10 level around 120 micrograms per cubic metre. The WHO report also suggests that the PM10 level in Kolkata was just around 100 micrograms per cubic metre in 2009-2010. So what forced the level of dust particles to shoot up?

Chatterjee added that another source of PM10 in Kolkata is the westerly winds that come in from the west and north India during the winter. They bring the dust particles from neighbouring and far flung states including Delhi, UP, Bihar and Jharkhand, raising pollution levels during winter months. Though physicians and scientists claimed that it is the PM2.5 – the finer particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 micros – which are more deadly, they also pointed out PM10 is also bad enough to cause damage and trigger a variety of pulmonary diseases as they can can penetrate deep into the lungs.


This is modeled air quality for India in forecast mode. The reports for all the 640 Indian districts 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).