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Calls for action mount as six Indian cities hit top 10 of air pollution

Calls for action mount as six Indian cities hit top 10 of air pollution

Thursday 12 May 2016 04.01 BST

Environmental campaigners in India have called for the government to implement a “stringent, time-bound” plan to curb air pollution in cities, as a new World Health Organisation report suggests that six of the 10 most polluted cities in the world are in India .

The report, which contains data from 795 cities in 67 countries between 2008 and 2013, shows Indian cities have some of the highest concentrations of particulate pollution, which can cause fatal damage to the heart and lungs.

According to the WHO, air pollution is currently the greatest environmental risk to public health and causes about 3 million premature deaths globally every year.

Six Indian cities – Gwalior, Allahabad, Patna, Raipur, Ludhiana, and Delhi – rank among the most polluted cities in the world.

The report suggests millions of people in India are at risk of serious cardiac and respiratory infections and diseases because of high pollution levels.

Indian environmental activists condemned Narendra Modi’s government for inaction over pollution. Sunil Dahiya, a campaigner from Greenpeace India, said air pollution levels had spiked in recent years.

“The government has to give up the fossil fuel-based energy and look for cleaner forms of energy, such as renewables,” he said.

“Pollution levels have increased since the last WHO report in 2014. and the government must take it seriously. Right now, no one is really accountable for air pollution in the government.

“They need to make a systematic, comprehensive, and time-bound plan on a national and regional level.”

Volunteers stand with placards at a junction in Delhi to raise awareness of odd-even number plate car restrictions. Photograph: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images

Anumita Roychowdhury of the Centre of Science and Environment, based in New Delhi, also believes environmental policy needs a thorough overhaul.

“So far in India the air pollution action has been confined to driving,” she said, referring to a driving scheme implemented in Delhi that aims to reduce road traffic by alternating days on which vehicles with odd and even number plates could be on the roads.

However, she argued that the report’s findings looked only at particulate pollution and neglected to mention ozone and nitrogen oxide pollution, indicators that would implicate richer countries. “It is not a holistic picture of pollution trends,” she said.

Modi, the prime minister, has made some commitments to protecting the environment, such as announcing a $30m solar energy plan at the Paris climate summit and agreeing to meet Euro VI emission standards by 2020.

However the pro-business, development-focused government’s commitment to green causes has been questioned.

Women wait for a bus early on a polluted morning in Delhi. Photograph: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images

Subhas Datta, an environmental activist, said Modi’s government was not alone and that successive Indian governments had failed to deliver on air pollution standards.

“Our political leaders don’t know about the environment or realise the impact. They have a callous attitude to it,” he said.

“Development should not have to mean destruction. It should be done in a sustainable way. Environmental activists have failed too, to bring this issue to light, and that’s why we’re facing this now. I have failed.”

The Guardian contacted India’s environment ministry for a response to the latest report, but a press officer said he was unable to comment.

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Air pollution in India is so bad that it kills half a million people every year - The Washington Post

Air pollution in India is so bad that it kills half a million people every year

An Indian national flag flies as a thick layer of smog envelops the city skyline after Diwali festival, in New Delhi, India. New Delhi is imposing new rules to reduce its notoriously snarled traffic and fight extreme air pollution that has earned India’s capital the title of world’s most polluted city. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, File)

A new paper has added to the growing body of research indicating that India’s air pollution has become a matter of life and death. The study. published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that outdoor air pollution in the country is contributing to more than half a million premature deaths each year at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars.

The deadly power of air pollution is no new finding. Numerous studies have concluded that both outdoor and indoor pollution can cause a variety of serious diseases, including ischemic heart disease, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, increased risk of stroke and even lung cancer. One study published last year in Nature, for instance, estimated that a type of pollution known as “fine particulate matter” — tiny toxic particles that can be released by a variety of sources, including the burning of fossil fuels or organic matter — is responsible for about 3 million deaths worldwide each year.

In certain parts of the world, particularly India and China, air pollution is an ever-growing public health concern. This may be especially true for India, which reportedly surpassed China earlier this year in the overall amount of fine particulate matter pollution its citizens are exposed to. That report. which was published in February by Greenpeace, found that fine particulate matter levels in New Delhi came to about 128 micrograms per cubic meter, in comparison to Beijing’s 81 and Washington D.C.’s 12. In contrast, the World Health Organization recommends that nations shoot for an annual average of 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

The authors of this week’s paper have pointed out that most studies that model pollution-related mortality have focused on Europe and the United States, with comparatively few studies on mostly urban areas in India. A few broad studies have attempted to produce estimates for the globe as a whole, including regional estimates for India or South Asia — these included two independent 2015 studies and a 2014 World Health Organization report. all of which suggested that pollution-related premature deaths were above 0.5 or 0.6 million annually.

The new study, which focuses specifically on India, further supports those estimates. The study relied on computer simulations of outdoor air pollution levels throughout the nation — including both fine particulate matter and ozone, which is also known to cause respiratory disease — using data from national inventories on pollutant emissions. The researchers then used a model (relying on previous research on the human health response to pollution exposure) to estimate the number of associated premature deaths. All the simulations were based on 2011 data.

Their results suggested that about 570,000 premature deaths in India were caused by exposure to fine particulate matter in 2011, and an additional 12,000 were caused by exposure to ozone. The most severely affected part of the country was the Indo-Gangetic region, which includes the northern strip of the country.

“[It’s] good to see that the results from this study are in good agreement with our work, which shows that these numbers are quite robust, and that air pollution is indeed an important cause of premature death,” said Jos Lelieveld of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany, who led one of the 2015 global studies on pollution and premature mortality. Lelieveld was not involved with the new study.

In addition, Marko Tainio of the University of Cambridge (who was also not involved with the research) noted that the results are well in line with estimates produced by the 2013 Global Burden of Disease study (GBD), which is a collaborative effort among the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and other academic partners, which quantifies the health effects of various diseases and injuries around the world.

“The paper in Geophysical Research Letters used similar methods than the ones in the GBD study so I would have expected similar results,” he said by email.

In all of these cases, there is no physical way to tell who has actually been killed by air pollution. Rather, the methods rely on statistical algorithms (computer models, essentially) to construct estimates about a population’s response to pollution exposure using previous concrete observations on pollution and public health. The problem is that most of these observational studies have taken place in regions with comparatively low pollution levels, such as Europe or the U.S. said Michael Jerrett. chair of the department of environmental health sciences at the University of California Los Angeles, who was not involved with the new research.

“We don’t have any epidemiological studies from China or India that look at the long-term effects of air pollution on mortality,” he said. That means that modeling studies on health and pollution in these places are essentially extrapolating human responses to high pollution levels using results from less polluted places — meaning scientists can’t quite know for sure whether the results produced by the models are completely true to real life.

This makes the method slightly controversial among some scientists, Jerrett noted. However, it’s also one of the only available options for this type of research until the missing studies are conducted in those parts of the world.

Additionally, Jerrett said that these types of modeling studies are forced to assume that all types of particles included in fine particulate matter pollution — which may include a variety of different substances, including heavy metals, acids or carbon compounds — are equally toxic, which research suggests is likely not the case. Emissions containing varying concentrations of different particles may affect human health in different ways. For the time being, though, there’s not much that can be done to correct for this issue in existing models. And overall, Jerrett agreed that this particular paper “looks like it’s a well-conducted study building on a longer research tradition.”

In addition to estimating the number of premature mortalities across the nation, the researchers converted these calculations into years of life lost. They concluded that exposure to fine particulate matter in India translated to about 3.4 life years lost.

“This is a point of concern because overall average life expectancy is already low (64 years) in India, ranked 150 worldwide in 2012, and future increase in PM2.5 concentration may worsen the situation,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers also estimated the economic cost of the mortalities using a function known as “ value of a statistical life ,” or VSL — essentially, the monetary value of a change in a person’s likelihood of dying. This is sometimes thought of as the amount of money a society would be willing to spend to save an individual citizen’s life. This value generally differs by country and depends on factors such as growth in gross domestic product and income.

From these calculations, the researchers concluded that the cost of the estimated premature mortalities came to about $640 billion in 2011 — notably, about 10 times higher than the country’s total expenditures on health that year.

Altogether, although there are still some uncertainties associated with the methods, the paper adds to an ever-increasing collection of studies highlighting the dramatic health consequences of heavy pollution. And it’s worth noting that this particular study did not even include the effects of indoor air pollution, from sources such as indoor cooking and heating, which are also known to contribute to similar health problems.

“Our estimates on premature mortalities, economic loss and life lost years provides important information to elective members and policy makers to propose or impose emission controls to benefit reduced public health risk due to exposure to outdoor air pollution,” the authors wrote.

And Jerrett added that more stringent standards for air pollution control may also help lead to a decrease in the kinds of emissions that contribute to global warming. This means that stricter pollution control in India would not only help save lives in that part of the world, but would also be a win for the planet as a whole.

Air pollution in India, Causes of Air Pollution in India

Air pollution in India

Deep breathing is the solution to many health problems as we inhale fresh and oxygen rich air. But is it true for our nation? Do we have fresh air especially in the cities which are congested, full of public, vehicles and industries?

In the Yale Environmental Performance Index by the Yale University, India ranked at 174th position out of 178 countries on air pollution. Only Pakistan, China, Nepal and Bangladesh have worst air quality than India as per the index. For indexing, air quality, water, sanitation and status of biodiversity have been taken into account. The overall rank of India is 155th, whereas most of the other BRICS countries are ahead of India on overall rating.

In 2010, India’s Central Pollution Control Board had presented the report according to which 180 cities in India had particulate matter six times more than the permissible limit set by the World Health Organization in the air. Vehicles, biomass burning, fuel adulteration are few of the major causes of air pollution in India. The problem of air pollution is so big that we cannot afford to overlook it.

Facts about Air Pollution in India

India is the seventh most environmentally unsafe country in the world.

Most of the industries do not stick to the environmental guidelines, regulations and laws.

Pollution caused by burning fuelwood and biomass is one of the main causes of the Asian brown cloud. This cloud delays the monsoon in India.

Many auto rickshaws and taxis in India use adulterated fuel. This is done to lower down the price but it is the environment and ultimately we who have to pay the price back. Some of the adulterants are actually very harmful to the environment as these emit unsafe pollutants which further deteriorate the quality of air.

As per the scientific studies it has been found out that traffic at low speed especially during congestion burn fuel ineffectually and emit 4 to 8 times more air pollutants.

There are more than 40 different types of dangerous pollutants in the engine exhaust (diesel and gas). 70% of the air pollution is caused by vehicles.

Burning of fossil fuel such as coal and diesel has reduced the growth of rice harvest in India. India is the third largest producer of coal in the world and at the top as far as CO2 emittance is considered.

30% children in Bangalore suffer from Asthma due to air pollution. The city is also regarded as the asthma capital of India.

In NDTV it has been shown that Delhi is the most polluted city in the world and it left behind Beijing in air pollution. Industrial and vehicular emissions have caused the pollution to rise at this level in Delhi. Each day 1,400 new vehicles are added to Delhi roads.

Air Pollution effect on health

Numerous health problems are associated with air pollution. Number of people dying of asthma in India is more than elsewhere in the world.

Indoor cooking fire is the third and outdoor air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death in India.

A study was conducted on non-smokers in India and Europe. It has been found out that lungs of a non smoker Indian performs 30% less than a European because of pollution.

Among hospitalized children in India, 13% deaths are caused by the acute respiratory infection.

Because of high vehicular pollution, Delhi school children show poor lung function (reduced in 43.5% school children in Delhi) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Non-communicable diseases are increasing in India and accounts for 62% of the total disease. Apart from pollution, lifestyle and genetic also play their role.

Cancer cases are increasing at an alarming rate in India. According to the estimates of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) by 2026 there will be more than 1.4 million people suffering from cancer. One of the major reasons for this would be greater exposure to environmental carcinogens.

Proverb ‘Prevention is better than cure’ appropriately suits to this condition. Pollution must be prevented rather than letting it go and then dealing with it. India has been working hard to improve the air quality for the last 15 years. This has resulted in the drop of the major air pollutants during 1995-2008.

Forregulating air pollution the Air (Prevention and Control Pollution) Act was passed in 1981.

The Supreme Court in India can work wonder in combating the problem of air pollution. It has taken many decisions in this regard and one of the most beneficial was the mandatory use of compressed natural gas in public service vehicles in Delhi in 1985. This had effectively changed the percentage of air pollution.

Many residential areas of Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai and Bhopal have shown the declining trends in the level of sulphur dioxide. Local measures like reduction of sulphur in diesel, introduction of clean fuel standard, and increasing use of LPGs instead of biomass as domestic fuel are some of the likely reasons for this decline.

Bhopal and Solapur are showing decline in the levels of nitrogen dioxide.

Introduction of metro in Delhi as public transport was one of the way to reduce pollution.

But India needs to put more efforts to control this frightening condition. Public awareness should be raised and stringent measures should be taken to regulate the vehicular emission. We must use public transport wherever possible, use energy-efficient appliances, do not burn wood or coal, kitchen and bathrooms should have exhaust fan to reduce indoor pollution.

Beijing issues first-ever red alert on air pollution - Times of India

Beijing issues first-ever 'red alert' on air pollution

Beijing has issued its first red alert for smog, urging schools to close and invoking restrictions on factories and traffic that will keep half the city's vehicles off the roads. It's the second time this month that notoriously polluted Beijing has experienced a prolonged bout of smog.

Agencies | Updated: Dec 7, 2015, 07.00 PM IST

A woman wearing a mask to protect herself from pollutants walks past office buildings shrouded with pollution haze in Beijing.

BEIJING: Beijing issued its first-ever red alert for smog on Monday, urging schools to close and invoking restrictions on factories and traffic that will keep half of the city's vehicles off the roads.

The red alert — the most serious warning on a four-tier system adopted in recent years — was announced late Monday. It means authorities have forecast more than three consecutive days of severe smog.

Readings of PM2.5 particles climbed toward 300 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday and are expected to continue rising before the air begins to improve with the arrival of a cold front on Thursday. The World Health Organization designates the safe level for the tiny, poisonous particles at 25.

Along with school closures and limiting cars to driving every other day depending on the last number of their license plate, a raft of other restrictions will seek to reduce the amount of dust and other particulate matter in the city of 22.5 million people. Officials said extra subway trains and buses would be added to handle the additional strain on public transport.

It's the second time this month that notoriously polluted Beijing has experienced a prolonged bout of smog, sending PM2.5 levels in the suburbs as high as 976 micrograms. Beijing was also shrouded in persistent smog for most of November, when power demand soared due to unusually cold weather.

While pollution in the capital improved slightly in the first 10 months of the year, heavy smog that can be seen from outer space regularly forces Beijing schools to suspend outdoor activities and can even prompt highway closures because of reduced visibility.

"It is a sharp warning to us that we may have too much development at the price of environment and it is time for us to seriously deal with air pollution ," said Fan, a hotel employee.

There previously have been stretches of severe smog in Beijing that lasted more than three days. However, those had initially been forecast to last three days or less, so they did not trigger a red alert. The alert requires a forecast of more than 72 straight hours with PM2.5 levels of 200 micrograms per cubic meter or more.

Polluted air throughout broad swaths of China has had severe health effects. A study led by atmospheric chemist Jos Lelieveld of Germany's Max Planck Institute and published this year in Nature magazine estimated that 1.4 million people each year die prematurely because of pollution in China.

Most of the pollution is blamed on coal-fired power plants, along with vehicle emissions and construction and factory work. China, the world's biggest carbon emitter, plans to upgrade coal power plants over the next five years to tackle the problem, and says its emissions will peak by around 2030 before starting to decline.

While emissions standards have been tightened and heavy investments made in solar, wind and other renewable energy, China still depends on coal for more than 60 percent of its power.

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Air Pollution

Air Pollution

Autor: niqiu • September 24, 2012 • Essay • 523 Words (3 Pages) • 431 Views

“The atmosphere is composed of 78.1 percent nitrogen, 20.9 percent oxygen, and a number of other gases such as argon, carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor that total about 1 percent” (Enger Smith 355). Actually, besides the gases witch we need for our live, air pollutant also include in the 1 percent. Air pollution is a major problem facing our environmental today. This dilemma can harm every organism on this plant. In every minute, air pollutants are producing and polluting our environmental, because human actions are the major cause of the air pollution. Some air pollutants is not only polluting our environment, but also affecting our health. The World Health Organization states that 2.4 million people die each year from causes directly attributable to air pollution. In US of America, there over 4.1 thousand people die, because of outdoor air pollution. So we need pay attention on air pollution to solving this problem and reduce the air pollutant producing. My goal in this paper is to understand what air pollutant influence our environment and find out the way to reducing air pollution.

Aiming to achieve this goal, I have organized my paper into four sections. In the first section, I describe categories of air pollutants: the region where they were produced; how they affect the environment and people’s health. Then I will use second section to show the most terrible cases when air pollution caused people death. In third section, I discuss the way to resolving the air pollution and what we need to do to protect our environment. Then I will talk about the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Air pollutant can be separated into two categories: primary air pollutants and secondary air pollutants. Primary is known as the five major types of substances are released directly into the atmosphere by unmodified forms in sufficient quantities. They are carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds,