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To cut Delhi’s air pollution, pinpoint the source

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By Eric Dodge & Rohini Pande

This winter, Delhi’s government and the judiciary have implemented several policies aimed at cutting the national capital’s air pollution. The just-concluded odd-even scheme in the city required motorists to find alternative means of transportation every other day.

Car-free days, first in Gurgaon and then in Delhi, appeared to cause a temporary dip in pollution levels. The night hours when trucks can pass through Delhi have been reduced, and the National Green Tribunal has issued a direction to lower truck traffic coming into the city at night by levying an additional entrance fee.

On some days the air may be clearer. But what remains hazy is where Delhi’s air pollution comes from. Over the years, multiple attempts to find out – called source apportionment studies – have yielded contradictory results. There are numerous suspects: cars and trucks, smokestacks, farm fires in Punjab and Haryana, and dust from construction sites to name just a few. Without a better knowledge of the portion contributed by different sources, any policy response, no matter how bold, will be a little like a blind attempt to pin the tail on the donkey.

But that may be changing. The Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K) has now released a major study, commissioned by the Delhi environment department in 2011. This promises to give the clearest picture of source apportionment yet. And other new sources of quality information on air pollution are appearing: the government has plans to add 10 new air quality monitoring stations in Delhi, and news outlets are setting up their own monitoring systems, including IndiaSpend #Breathe.

This could be a turning point in our understanding of the sources of Delhi’s deadly air, as well as our ability to craft smart policies that shut them down. We at Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) are researchers who assist government ministries in formulating such responses. We think that at a time like this – a critical convergence of public concern, policymaker attention, and academic contribution – it’s worth taking stock of what we know now and how we came to know it. That clarity will make it easier to guide the discussion toward a policy response that will stick.

There are two ways of conducting source apportionment studies: direct sampling based on chemical analysis, and secondary data analysis based on monitoring data. The international best practice is to rely on receptor-based studies, but where budgetary constraints inhibit adequate sampling, analysis using secondary data may dominate.

Over the past 10 years, and excluding the just completed IIT-K study, we count 15 source apportionment studies that sought to pinpoint the sources of emissions and their respective contributions to Delhi’s overall air pollution. Ten are based on direct sampling; the other five rely on secondary data. While the main sources identified are similar across studies, the relative weights placed on different sources by these studies vary dramatically. This underscores both the difficulty of conducting them and the wide range in the quality of the studies currently available.

Getting a reliable picture of air pollution is inherently difficult due to Delhi’s changing weather conditions and constantly shifting patterns of emissions throughout the day, week, and year. Moreover, some of the most important pollution sources lie outside the National Capital Region. This makes it important that direct air sampling studies are broad enough to capture multiple sources and take samples at several different time points. An inability to do this-largely due to budgetary considerations-and the resulting differences in what gets sampled are an important part of the explanation for the large differences across studies.

In such situations, secondary data-based analysis may well be the best option for source apportionment studies, as long as these secondary sources are reliable and span relevant emission sources. Right now, we lack a measure of whether that is the case. Without standardized best practices about which secondary data sources to use and which model to use, source apportionment studies will continue to give conflicting results going forward.

So, we not only lack the best information on pollution, we also lack consensus on how to determine the second best. (IANS/IndiaSpend.org) (Photo: social.yourstory.com)

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Now Breathe Homely Fresh Air: List of Indoor Air Purifying Plants | Newsgram

Here is a list of 'Indoor air purifying plants'

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Indoor air purifying plants'
Indoor air purifying plants. Pixabay

Sep 15, 2017: Throughout the years, air pollution has advanced as one of the risks to humanity and nature. In such a grim scene, one needs Indoor air purifying plants to breathe fresh air.

We as a whole need to move to metro urban areas for better life and profession however because of expanding air pollution, living in such urban areas is fatal. Air pollution causes breathing issue, heart, kidney and liver ailments. Playing it safe can spare us from these ailments caused by air pollution.

There are different plants which can enhance indoor air quality and can even battle cancer causing pollutants.

Below is a list of ‘Indoor air purifying plants’

Spider Plant

Indoor Air Purifying Plants
Spider Plant. Pixabay

Spider plant carries out photosynthesis to a great extent due to which it can purify the air and release fresh air regularly. The plant absorbs nicotine from cigarette smoke and decomposes other carcinogens like benzene.

 

 Asparagus (Shatavari)

Indoor Air Purifying Plants
Asparagus Plant. Pixabay

Asparagus is also known as Shatavari, has many advantages from women’s health to curing nervous disorders. The plant is demonstrated as an astonishing air purifier. The scent of asparagus eliminates microscopic organisms and infections.

Indoor Air Purifying Plants

Aloe Vera

Indoor Air Purifying Plants
Aloe Vera. Pixabay

You must be aware health and beauty benefits of aloe vera, however, do you realize that one pot of this plant is equivalent to natural air cleaners? This plant gives you clean air by absorbing harmful gasses like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde. Keeping this plant four hours in the daylight can dispose of 90% of formaldehyde in 1 square meter of air.

Holy Basil (Tulsi)

Indoor Air Purifying Plants
Holy Basil. Pixabay

Tulsi is one of the best indoor plants for purifying the air. It gives out oxygen for four hours per day which ingests harmful gasses like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide from the earth. This plant is additionally utilized as a mosquito repellent. It has various therapeutic advantages as well.

Indoor Air Purifying Plants

Snake Plant

Indoor Air Purifying Plants
Snake Plant. Pixabay

Snake plant can flourish in low light and sticky conditions so you can place it in your restroom as it will help clean air pollutants. You can also place it in your room as it ingests carbon dioxide and discharges oxygen during the evening.

Gerbera Daisy

Indoor Air Purifying Plants
Gerbera Daisy. Pixabay

This splendid, blossoming plant is successful at expelling trichloroethylene. Add this plant to your room so it can keep the air fresh.

Indoor Air Purifying Plants

 Dragon Tree

Indoor Air Purifying Plants
Dragon Tree. Pixabay

This plant is a prominent choice for office spaces and homes for its alluring look. It absorbs xylene – a substance discharged from fumes, paints, and cigarettes.

Garden Mum

Indoor Air Purifying Plants
Garden Mum. Pixabay

The vivid blooms of this plant can light up the home. This plant is an air-cleaning winner.

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‘Humans Have Caused Pollution and Humans Can Fix It too’, Says UN Environment Head; Asserts Asia Must Lead Efforts for a Pollution-Free Earth

World Health Organization figures show Asia has 25 of the world's 30 most-polluted cities in terms of fine particles in the air that pose the greatest risks to human health

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Asia-Pacific
People wear protective masks during a polluted day in Shanghai (VOA)

Bangkok, September 9, 2017 : Asia-Pacific — home to more than half the world’s population and some of its fastest-growing economies — is a key battleground in the fight against pollution, one of the biggest threats to the planet and its people, the U.N. environment chief said.

An estimated 12 million people die prematurely each year because of unhealthy environments, 7 million of them due to air pollution alone, making pollution “the biggest killer of humanity,” Erik Solheim told the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment in Bangkok this week.

ALSO READ Air Pollution expected to Cause 60,000 Deaths in 2030 and 2,60,000 in 2100 Globally: Study

Humans have caused pollution and humans can fix it, said Solheim, executive director of UN Environment, in an interview with Reuters at the four-day summit.

“The struggle for a pollution-free planet will be won or lost in Asia — nowhere else,” said the former Norwegian minister for environment and international development.

The sheer size of Asia-Pacific, as well as its continued economic growth, put it at the heart of the challenge, he added.

The region’s development has been accompanied by worsening pollution of its air, water and soil. Its emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide doubled between 1990 and 2012, and the use of resources such as minerals, metals and biomass has tripled, according to the United Nations.

Asia-Pacific
A man carries a sack of vegetables as he walks past a polluted canal littered with plastic bags and other garbage, in Mumbai. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) (VOA)

World Health Organization figures also show Asia has 25 of the world’s 30 most-polluted cities in terms of fine particles in the air that pose the greatest risks to human health. The pollution comes largely from the combustion of fossil fuels, mostly for transport and electricity generation.

Solheim said Asia is also a major contributor of plastic polluting the world’s oceans — and solutions can be found in the region. He pointed to a huge beach cleanup campaign in Mumbai that inspired Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to overhaul the country’s waste management system.

“There’s enormous environmental opportunity,” Solheim said. “Asia has by and large strong governments, and they have the ability to fix problems.”

Coal no longer king?

Solheim said fighting pollution by moving toward renewable energy sources such as wind and solar would also benefit efforts to curb climate change, which scientists say is stoking more deadly heatwaves, floods and sea-level rise around the world.

But environmentalists worry that Asia’s demand for coal, the most polluting of the major fossil fuels, is likely to grow for years to come.

Figures from a forum organized by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Singapore earlier this year show that some 273 gigawatts of coal power are still being built, although much more has been put on hold.

In July, analysts told Reuters that Japan, China and South Korea are bank-rolling coal-fired power plants in Indonesia despite their pledges to reduce planet-warming emissions under the Paris climate deal.

Asia-Pacific
Workers operate machines at a coal mine at Palaran district in Samarinda, Indonesia (VOA)

The landmark 2015 Paris Agreement seeks to limit the rise in average world temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. Experts say curbing or ending the use of coal is required if this goal is to be reached.

Globally, many countries — including China — are shutting down or suspending plans for coal-fired power plants as costs for wind and solar power plummet.

Solheim is optimistic, noting that the International Energy Agency significantly raised its five-year growth forecast for renewables led by China, India, the United States and Mexico.

“There are very, very few people in the world who believe that the future is coal,” he said. “I think we will see the shift [to renewables] happening much faster than people tend to believe.”

ALSO READ Paris climate pact: The play of words

On U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull his nation out of the Paris Agreement, Solheim sees a silver lining.

“The surprising judgment of history may be that Donald Trump did a lot of service to this fight against climate change by withdrawing, because he galvanized the reaction of everyone else,” said Solheim.

“All the big, iconic companies of modern capitalism — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon — they immediately said, ‘We will move into the green economy.'” (VOA)

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Indian Researcher part of the team that developed new hyper-local Air Pollution Map

The new mobile approach maps air pollution every 100 feet, or at about four to five locations along a single city block

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air pollution
Researchers develop new air pollution map. Wikimedia
  • This new technique maps urban air pollution at 100,000 times greater spatial resolution than is possible with traditional government air quality monitors
  • The new technique could address major air quality monitoring gaps worldwide
  • The research was conducted in partnership with the US-based non-profit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Google and Aclima

New York, June 9, 2017: Using specially equipped Google Street View cars to measure air quality on a block-by-block basis, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a detailed and extensive local map of air pollution for an urban area.

Most large urban areas tend to have only one air quality monitor for every 100 to 200 square miles. In comparison, the new mobile approach maps air pollution every 100 feet, or at about four to five locations along a single city block.

“Using our approach and analysis techniques, we can now visualise air pollution with incredible detail. This kind of information could transform our understanding of the sources and impacts of air pollution,” Apte added.

The research was conducted in partnership with the US-based non-profit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Google and Aclima, a California-based provider of environmental sensors.

By integrating Aclima’s sensor system into Google Street View cars, the team mapped air pollution in 78 square miles of Oakland, California, over an entire year, collecting one of the largest data sets of air pollution ever measured of single city streets.

ALSO READ: Driverless Bus-Train hybrid by a Chinese Company Runs on Virtual Painted Tracks

This new technique maps urban air pollution at 100,000 times greater spatial resolution than is possible with traditional government air quality monitors, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The team believes that their hyper-local mobile measurement system could be implemented in many cities throughout the world, providing detailed air quality information for citizens, families, local governments and scientists.

The new technique could address major air quality monitoring gaps worldwide and has the potential to transform the way air pollution is monitored in urban areas as well as shed light on the health effects on city dwellers.

“You could use this information when you’re picking a school for your kids. Is there a school with a playground that might have better air quality because your kid has asthma,” Apte said.

“This hyper-local information about consistent air quality can be really useful for people, especially those who are vulnerable because of age or health condition,” Apte noted.(IANS)