Monday May 27, 2019

No Stop To Air Pollution in India, Reducing Dirty Fuels Need of The Hour

"Household fuels are the single biggest source of outdoor air pollution in India," said Kirk R. Smith, professor of global environmental health at UC Berkeley.

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"India has got to do other things to fix air pollution -- they've got to stop garbage burning, they've got to control the power plants, they've got to control vehicles and so forth. Pixabay

Mitigating the use of household fuels could reduce air pollution-related deaths in India by approximately 13 per cent, which is equivalent to saving about 270,000 lives a year, an India-US joint study has stressed.

Nearly half of the country’s population relies on dirty fuels such as wood, dung, coal and kerosene for cooking and heating, said researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and the India Institute of Technology-Delhi.

Eliminating emissions from these sources — without any changes to industrial or vehicle emissions — would bring the average outdoor air pollution levels below the country’s air quality standard.

“Household fuels are the single biggest source of outdoor air pollution in India,” said Kirk R. Smith, professor of global environmental health at UC Berkeley.

A study in the Lancet Planetary Health journal last year found that air quality in India is so poor that 1.2 million deaths in the country in 2018 can be attributed to air pollution.

“We looked at what would happen if they only cleaned up households, and we came to this counter-intuitive result that the whole country would reach national air pollution standards if they did that,” Smith added in a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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“You can’t have a clean environment when about half the houses in India are burning dirty fuels every day,” Smith said. Pixabay

The co-authors of the paper are Sourangsu Chowdhury and Sagnik Dey of IIT-Delhi, Sarath Guttikunda of Urban Emissions in New Delhi, Ajay Pillarisetti of UC Berkeley and Larry Di Girolamo of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

As of early 2016, nearly half of the Indian population was reliant on biomass for household fuel.

“There are 3,000 chemicals that have been identified in wood smoke, and taken at a macro level, it is very similar to tobacco smoke,” Smith informed.

In 2015, India’s average annual air pollution level was 55 micrograms per cubic meter (ug m-3) of fine particulate matter.

Levels in New Delhi often soared beyond 300 ug m-3.

Complete mitigation of biomass as fuel – which could be achieved through widespread electrification and distribution of clean-burning propane to rural areas – would cut India’s average annual air pollution to 38 ug m-3.

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A study in the Lancet Planetary Health journal last year found that air quality in India is so poor that 1.2 million deaths in the country in 2018 can be attributed to air pollution. Pixabay

While this is still far above the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 10 ug m-3, it could still have dramatic impacts on the health of the people.

“You can’t have a clean environment when about half the houses in India are burning dirty fuels every day,” Smith said.

“India has got to do other things to fix air pollution — they’ve got to stop garbage burning, they’ve got to control the power plants, they’ve got to control vehicles and so forth.

“But they need to recognise the fact that households are very important contributors to outdoor air pollution, too,” he noted.

In 2016, India instituted a national programme to distribute clean burning stoves and propane to 80 million impoverished households, or about 500 million people.

Also Read: Biopic on PM Modi To Hit The Theaters Post The 2019 Elections Results

Smith hopes the findings would bolster support for reducing outdoor air pollution, as well.

Similar programmes have been successful in China, where air pollution is now on the decline in 80 cities. (IANS)

 

Next Story

India Ends all Imports of Iranian Oil, Says Washington Ambassador

Trump last year pulled out of a multinational pact under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief

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FILE - A worker walks atop a tanker wagon to check the freight level at an oil terminal on the outskirts of Kolkata, India. VOA

India has ended all imports of oil from Iran, its ambassador in Washington says, becoming the latest country to grudgingly comply with threatened U.S. sanctions.

India had already sharply decreased its imports from Iran and bought one million tonnes of crude in April, the last month before Washington stepped up its pressure campaign against Tehran and ended all exemptions to sanctions, Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla said. “That’s it. After that, we haven’t imported any,” Shringla told reporters Thursday during a briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory.

No Venezuela oil, either

Shringla said that energy-hungry India has also ended all imports from Venezuela because it considered itself a partner of the United States. But he said the shift had caused pain at home, with Iran formerly supplying 10 percent of India’s oil needs.

Calling Iran “an extended neighbor” of India with long-standing cultural links, Shringla declined to say whether New Delhi shared President Donald Trump’s concerns about Tehran. “This is an issue that has to be dealt with, really, between the United States and Iran. We are only, in many senses, looking at it as a third party,” Shringla said.

But he added: “We would not like to see a move towards any escalation in any way in that area, for the simple reason that we depend very heavily on stability in that part of the world.”

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FILE – U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, May 8, 2018. VOA

Trump last year pulled out of a multinational pact under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief.

The Trump administration has instead ramped up economic pressure on Iran and recently deployed military assets, including an aircraft carrier strike group, to the area.
The United States as of May 2 ended exemptions it had given to eight governments from its unilateral order to stop buying Iranian oil.

Turkey stops imports

Turkey, which enjoyed a waiver and vocally disagreed with the U.S. policy, has also stopped importing oil from Iran, a Turkish official said this week. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus welcomed the news from Turkey.

ALSO READ: India, China, Turkey Silently Purchasing Iran’s Crude Oil as US Ban Begins

“We want the whole world to comply with these sanctions, and we’re grateful for our partners and allies that are respecting them,” she told reporters. The Indian ambassador, however, voiced confidence that U.S. sanctions would not affect its partnership in developing Iran’s Chabahar port.

India wants to use the port to ship supplies into Afghanistan in a detour from its archrival Pakistan, which historically backed the Taliban. “I think it is in the interest of both our countries and all others concerned to ensure that that lifeline continues for the people of Afghanistan,” Shringla said. (VOA)