Over 627,000 people die prematurely and 18 million healthy life years are lost every year due to particulate air pollution Sunita Narain, director general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said at the Anil Agarwal Dialogue held in memory of CSE’s founder Anil Agarwal in the national capital today. She said that despite decades of air quality management, particle pollution remains one of the top killers.
Particle pollution is the microscopic solid and liquid matter suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is mostly black carbon, which is a product of incomplete combustion.
“Black carbon is local air pollutant and has global impact as well. The issue to deliberate will be the emerging science on local-global pollutants and also to understand the national road maps for intervention in key areas of mitigation and to see if these are sufficient or transformational approaches are needed,” Narain said.
The two-day event, that began on Wednesday, had discussions on black carbon and its impact of the climate.
Challenging a common perception, a new study suggests primitive ponds may have provided a suitable environment for creating Earth’s first life forms, more so than oceans.
The findings published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems showed shallow water bodies could have held high concentrations of what many scientists believe to be a key ingredient for jump-starting life on Earth: nitrogen.
“Our overall message is, if you think the origin of life required fixed nitrogen, as many people do, then it’s tough to have the origin of life happen in the ocean,” said lead author Sukrit Ranjan from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It’s much easier to have that happen in a pond,” Ranjan said.
Nitrogenous oxides were likely deposited in water bodies, including oceans and ponds, as remnants of the breakdown of nitrogen in Earth’s atmosphere.
Atmospheric nitrogen comprises two nitrogen molecules, linked via a strong triple bond, that can only be broken by an extremely energetic event — namely, lightning.
Scientists believe there could have been enough lightning crackling through the early atmosphere to produce an abundance of nitrogenous oxides to fuel the origin of life in the ocean.
But the new study found that ultraviolet light from the Sun and dissolved iron sloughed off from primitive oceanic rocks could have destroyed a significant portion of nitrogenous oxides in the ocean, sending the compounds back into the atmosphere as nitrogen.
In the ocean, ultraviolet light and dissolved iron would have made nitrogenous oxides far less available for synthesising living organisms.
In shallow ponds, however, life would have had a better chance to grow, mainly because ponds have much less volume over which compounds can be diluted. As a result, nitrogenous oxides would have built up to much higher concentrations, the study said. (IANS)