Wednesday January 23, 2019

Bengaluru kids more exposed to toxic air: Report

Observed air quality levels exceeded safety limits by more than five times, the particulate matter count was above 400 micrograms (IG) per cubic metre, says the report

0
//
Observed air quality levels exceeded safety limits by more than five times, the particulate matter count was above 400 micrograms (IG) per cubic metre, says the report.
Observed air quality levels exceeded safety limits by more than five times, the particulate matter count was above 400 micrograms (IG) per cubic metre, says the report. Wikimedia Commons
  • The school-goers are among the worst affected by the toxic air
  • With an existing fleet of seven million vehicles, nearly 900 new vehicles are added to the Bengaluru’s roads every day
  • Observed air quality levels exceeded safety limits by more than five times

If you are travelling in an open vehicle during peak traffic hours daily in Bengaluru, you are likely to be exposed to severe toxic air. And school-goers are among the worst affected, a report warned on Wednesday.

Between 8.30am and 10.30am, the particulate pollution levels between Banashankari to Marathahalli varied from 70-800 micrograms per cubic meter, an alarming high, says the report, “Bengaluru’s Rising Air Quality Crisis: The Need for Sustained Reportage and Action”, by independent environmental researcher Aishwarya Sudhir.

But why is Bengaluru gridlocked?

With an existing fleet of seven million vehicles, nearly 900 new vehicles are added to the Bengaluru’s roads every day.

Worsening the problem, says the report, is illegal dumping of waste mixed with mass untreated sewage.

Also Read: Neurologists say rising air pollution can cause stroke among adults

The city generates around 4,500 to 5,000 tonnes of waste per day, by conservative estimates. The state capital often referred as India’s Silicon Valley because of its information technology hub, has had its challenges with outdated waste collection, segregation and transportation system, which often results in toxic emissions.

Climate Trends works on solutions to air pollution, while Co Media Lab is a community media lab.
Climate Trends works on solutions to air pollution, while Co Media Lab is a community media lab. Wikimedia Commons

The city has 10 online monitoring stations, of which five were introduced in January with an additional feature to generate Air Quality Index.

The five new stations are in Hebbal, Jayanagar, Kavika, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences and Silk Board.

Taking up the cudgels to check the alarming pollution levels, the report says residents of Whitefield Rising in Mahadevapura in November last year tested the air quality in the morning in their locality.

Observed air quality levels exceeded safety limits by more than five times, the particulate matter count was above 400 micrograms (IG) per cubic metre, says the report.

Also Read: How exposure to air pollution in womb may shorten lifespan

Clean up

Sudhir, who is based in Bengaluru, told IANS that the residents initiated a daily activity to clean up roads by hiring a vacuum cleaner and demonstrated that this is indeed possible.

They have been spending money on and off to get the roads cleaned. They have approached the local municipality and the pollution control board to regularise it. So far that hasn’t happened.

Likewise, residents of Malleshwaram have started taking the initiative to tackle the problem of burning leaves, another major cause of air pollution, in their locality by composting in their gardens or empty plots.

The city generates around 4,500 to 5,000 tonnes of waste per day, by conservative estimates.
The city generates around 4,500 to 5,000 tonnes of waste per day, by conservative estimates. Wikimedia Commons

Quoting Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research cardiologist Rahul Patil, the report says: “After eliminating stress and dietary habits, we found cab and auto drivers were the worst hit as they remain stranded for long hours in bad traffic and are exposed to high levels of pollution.”

Co Media Lab Director Pinky Chandran told IANS that unlike New Delhi and other cities, Bengaluru, fortunately, has many citizen-action groups that are championing the cause of clean air.

Also Read: Air Pollution And Its Effects On Our Heath

“The state needs to take its citizens into confidence and formulate an implementable action plan which is based on air quality data so that it can bring about change,” she said.

A seven-day air quality monitoring exercise took up by Co Media Lab and Climate Trends this month found that the particulate matter averages observed over four hours during peak time in the morning and evening were consistently above 200 micrograms per cubic metre, indicating very poor air quality levels.

Climate Trends works on solutions to air pollution, while Co Media Lab is a community media lab. Both are based in Bengaluru. (IANS)

Next Story

U.S. Proposes Price Tag For CO2 Emissions From Cars

Some states can put programs in place with agency regulations. Others will have to go through their state legislatures.

0
EMission, carbon dioxide
Researchers turn carbon emissions into usable energy. VOA

Drivers on the U.S. East Coast may soon start paying for their climate pollution.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have announced plans to introduce a system that puts a price on the carbon dioxide produced from burning gasoline and diesel fuel.

As the federal government pulls back from taking action on climate change, the proposal is an example of how states and cities are aiming to move forward.

Details are slim at this point, but the Transportation and Climate Initiative would likely require fuel suppliers to pay for each ton of carbon dioxide that burning their products would produce. Costs would presumably be passed on to consumers.

The announcement says revenues would go toward improving transportation infrastructure and low-emissions alternatives to cars, trucks and buses.

The program could raise $1.5 billion to $6 billion per year, by one estimate.

carbon dioxide
Car emission, Wikimedia

“You can imagine, that could do a lot to modernize transportation infrastructure, improve mass transit, build out electric transportation options,” said Fatima Ahmad at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, based in Washington, D.C.

Reducing traffic congestion, “which is legendary in this area,” is a priority for the region’s lawmakers, she added. Those investments could create an estimated 91,000 to 125,000 new jobs.

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While electric utilities have cut production of carbon dioxide by switching from coal to natural gas and renewables, emissions from the transportation sector have been growing since 2012.

Following California

California is the only state so far that has put a price on carbon emissions from transportation fuels. The state included gas and diesel in its cap-and-trade program beginning in 2015. That program also regulates greenhouse gases from power plants and industries.

Car Emissions, carbon dioxide
Morning rush hour traffic makes its way along US 101 near downtown Los Angeles, California, Nov. 15, 2016. VOA

For transportation fuels, wholesalers buy the permits and pass on the cost. At the current price of about $15 per ton, the program adds about 13 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas.

The additional cost is less than the differences in pump price among gas stations in the same city, noted communications director Stanley Young at the California Air Resources Board, which administers the program.

“When you consider the few cents that the cap and trade program adds on to [the cost at the pump], it kind-of pales,” he said.

The state has raised more than $9 billion from permit sales since the program began in 2012.

Funds have paid for renewable energy and efficiency upgrades, mass transit, low-emissions vehicles, land preservation and other investments.

To help ease the burden on low-income consumers, a third of the funds are targeted to disadvantaged communities.

However, California’s program has not stopped vehicle CO2 emissions from rising. After a period of decline from 2007 to 2013, greenhouse gases from vehicles have increased every year since then.

Carbon dioxide
Car emissions contribute to global climate change. Pixabay

The state is studying the impact of car sharing and autonomous vehicles on reducing emissions. Young said officials are also looking into land use planning, so people live closer to work or transit.

“We invented sprawl,” he said, “and now we’re trying to deal with it.”

Hard to change

Transportation is one of the hardest sources of greenhouse gases to tackle, experts say.

Unlike the next biggest source of carbon pollution, power plants, transportation emissions come from millions of individual vehicles, and the choices their owners and drivers make have a big impact on how much carbon dioxide they produce.

There are essentially three ways to reduce their emissions, according to David Bookbinder at the Niskanen Center, a centrist research institution: make vehicles more efficient, reduce the amount of CO2 produced per unit of energy, or raise the price of fuel.

“It’s never popular to raise the price [of fuel],” Bookbinder said. Even so, “you have to really, really, really raise the price of gasoline before it has an impact on people’s use.”

Carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide
Car exhaust billows around commuter traffic in winter weather in Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 1, 2013. VOA

France’s “yellow vest” protests are one extreme reaction to raising fuel prices. They sparked the biggest outrage where driving is least avoidable: outside city centers and in areas lacking good public transit. And they demonstrate another risk: policies that make gas more expensive can have the biggest impact on the people who can least afford it.

One way to reduce the impact is by returning to consumers the money raised by pricing carbon. That’s the preferred approach in a proposal by a group of Republican elder statesmen. Investing in affordable public transit is another, Bookbinder says.

 

The members of the Transportation and Climate Initiative — Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. — will spend a year designing their individual programs.

Some states can put programs in place with agency regulations. Others will have to go through their state legislatures. That will test voters’ appetites to pay for their climate pollution. (VOA)