Tuesday September 25, 2018

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

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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
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  • 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capital often referred as India’s Silicon Valley because of its information technology hub, has had its challenges with outdated waste collection, segregation and transportation system, which often results in toxic emissions.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)

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Electric Vehicle Can Be The Best For Reducing Air Pollution: Survey

Since we invested in the technology we have often been told that we were making a big mistake betting on battery-powered vehicles.

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electric vehicles
People want electric vehicles to reduce air pollution: Survey. Flcikr

Eighty-seven per cent of the respondents believe that the need for reducing air pollution is the best reason to purchase an electric vehicle, a survey commissioned by Climate Trends and carried out by FourthLion Technologies showed on Thursday.

The survey was conducted online from August 21-24 among 2,178 Indian drivers, vehicle owners and those who plan to purchase, own or drive a vehicle in the next 10 years.

Vehicles account for about 24 per cent of India’s carbon emissions and is a major source for air pollution in several cities across the country.

According to a recent WHO report, 14 of the top 20 most polluted cities of the world are in India.

Delhi Pollution, electric vehicle
Air pollution can also damage your kidneys. wikimedia commons

The survey revealed that most drivers and vehicle owners are personally affected by poor air quality.

Seventy-six per cent say they along with their neighbours, friends or family suffer from poor air quality every day or are starting to show symptoms of being affected by air pollution.

Delhi seemed to be worst affected with 91 per cent of its respondents saying that they or people they know are suffering from poor air quality.

Similarly, high percentages were recorded in Hyderabad (78 per cent), Chennai (75 per cent), Mumbai (74 per cent), Bangalore (71 per cent), and Kolkata (70 per cent).

Drivers and vehicle owners say they are ‘much more likely’ to consider purchasing an electric vehicle after learning that ‘electric vehicles reduce air pollution through zero on-road emissions’ (72 per cent) and after learning that ‘recharging and driving an electric vehicle costs less per kilometre than fuelling and driving a petrol or diesel vehicle’ (71 per cent).

Electric Vehicles
The survey indicates very healthy awareness and potential willingness among the respondents to consider purchasing electric vehicles. Flickr

India is the third largest market for automobiles and the world’s largest market when it comes to two-wheelers.

Over four million internal combustion engine vehicles were sold in India in 2017, and 81 per cent of those sales (20 million units) came from the two-wheeler segment alone.

In comparison, according to data from the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, less than a million electric vehicles were sold in India, of which 93 per cent were electric three-wheelers.

The survey indicates very healthy awareness and potential willingness among the respondents to consider purchasing electric vehicles.

Also Read: Air Pollution Not Fatal But Could Reduce Life Expectancy By A Year

However, the respondents identified the lack of easily accessible charging infrastructure (59 per cent) and limited driving range on current battery packs (46 per cent) as their biggest objection towards adopting one.

“Since we invested in the technology we have often been told that we were making a big mistake betting on battery-powered vehicles. And today with the world transitioning to the new normal, we are recognized as pioneers in electric vehicles,” Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said.