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Delhi air pollution: 29 red alert days in November

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Air pollution
source: dubeat.com

New Delhi: Delhi’s air quality was so poor in the month of November this year that according to China’s pollution warning system, 29 days of the 30 would have been termed as ‘red alert’ days.

A red alert is issued in China if there are more than 350 micrograms of coarse particulate matter (PM10) in one cubic metre.

According to Greenpeace India’s analysis of the National Air Quality Index, the period of September to November in Delhi had 33 such days, 29 of which were in November.

While the standard level of PM10 per cubic meter is 100 micrograms, the monitoring station at Anand Vihar recorded the level at 1,433 micrograms earlier in the week. That is a staggering 14 times more than the average level of particulates.

A red alert in China shuts down polluting industries and schools, while vehicular pollution is strictly checked and directives issued. A similar system in India is being called forth by activists.

Greenpeace India campaigner, Sunil Dahiya said, “We have monitoring stations and the data is available on the government’s sites. But, the average citizens are not aware of the data. There is a need for an alarm system.”

India’s own governmental data showed that several cities in North India were in worse shape than Beijing, added Dahiya.

“We can no longer deny that we are in a state of crisis, and equally, that this crisis creates the imperative to come up with policies to put an end to India’s air pollution crisis,” said Dahiya.

Both national and regional plans are required on a long-term basis to truly affect the growing pollution crisis, according to environmentalists. The general population needs to be made aware of the crisis so that a collective effort can come into place.

“The Delhi Government’s car rationing policy and move to shut down power plants will reduce pollution, but we need to move to renewable energy,” added Dahiya.

 

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Researchers Develop New Framework To Select Best Trees For Fighting Air Pollution

Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth

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Trees
In a study, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the University of Surrey conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new framework for selecting the best trees for fighting air pollution that originates from our roads.

In a study, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the University of Surrey conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution.

“We are all waking up to the fact that air pollution and its impact on human health and the health of our planet is the defining issue of our time,” said study researcher Prashant Kumar, Professor at the University of Surrey in the UK. “Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth,” Kumar added.

The review found that there is ample evidence of green infrastructure’s ability to divert and dilute pollutant plumes or reduce outdoor concentrations of pollutants by direct capture, where some pollutants are deposited on plant surfaces.

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As part of their critical review, the researchers identified a gap in information to help people – including urban planners, landscape architects and garden designers – make informed decisions on which species of vegetation to use and, crucially, what factors to consider when designing a green barrier. To address this knowledge gap, they identified 12 influential traits for 61 tree species that make them potentially effective barriers against pollution.

Beneficial plant properties include small leaf size, high foliage density, long in-leaf periods (e.g. evergreen or semi-evergreen), and micro-characteristics such as leaf hairiness. Generally detrimental aspects of plants for air quality include wind pollination and biogenic volatile organic compound emissions.

Air Pollution, Global Warming, Mask, Doctor, Protection
Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new framework for selecting the best trees for fighting air pollution that originates from our roads. Pixabay

In the study, the team emphasised that the effectiveness of a plant is determined by its environmental context – whether, for example, it will be used in a deep (typical of a city commercial centre) or shallow (typical of a residential road) street canyon or in an open road environment.

To help concerned citizens with complex decisions, such as which tree is best for a road outside a school in a medium-sized street canyon, the research team has also developed a plant selection framework. “The use of green infrastructure as physical barriers between ourselves and pollutants originating from our roads is one promising way we can protect ourselves from the devastating impact of air pollution,” Kumar said.

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“We hope that our detailed guide to vegetation species selection and our contextual advice on how to plant and use green infrastructure is helpful to everyone looking to explore this option for combatting pollution,” he added. (IANS)