Saturday October 20, 2018

Was the Ban on Sale of Firecrackers in Delhi Successful? Data on Pollution Levels in Delhi Say Otherwise

Despite the much talked about cracker-ban, pollution monitoring stations placed the capital in the ‘red zone’, indicating ‘very poor’ air quality.

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While the ban on crackers imposed by the Supreme Court aimed to reduce pollution levels in Delhi, figures from pollution monitoring system paint an unhealthy picture with amplified levels of air pollution. (Representative image) Pixabay
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New Delhi, October 20, 2017: The Supreme Court had on October 9 banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi during Diwali in order to counter the pollution, deteriorating air quality and smog-like conditions that have come to be associated with the festival in recent times.

While a radical change was not expected following the ban on firecrackers, a humble and promising beginning could be witnessed on Diwali with majority areas in Delhi reporting much lesser noise and smoke till 6 PM, compared to previous years.

However, as the festive spirit picked up from 7 PM onwards, the hopes for a pollution-free Diwali got lost behind the growing echo of the crackers.

Pollution Levels on Diwali

Despite the much talked about the ban on firecrackers, pollution monitoring stations placed the capital in the ‘red zone’, indicating ‘very poor’ air quality. According to the stats available, on Diwali day around 7 pm, online indicators showed a rising trend in the volume of cancer-causing ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10 that are capable of entering the respiratory system and reach the bloodstream.

PM2.5 and PM10 are the extremely fine particulate matter with the digits representing their diameter in micrometers. They are a major component of air pollutants that threaten both, our health and the environment at large.

ALSO READ 10 Quick Facts About Delhi Pollution Problem

However, data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) suggested that the air quality in Delhi on Diwali was better than last year.

On Thursday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) value was 319 which placed the city in the ‘very poor’ category. However, the AQI value on Diwali last year was 431 and the city was placed in the ‘severe’ category.

According to data from SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), the 24-hour rolling average at around 11 PM was revealed as 154 and 256 micrograms per cubic meter for PM2.5 and PM10 respectively.

According to SAFAR data, pollution levels were expected to soar between 11 PM and 3 AM.

Pollution Levels in the Morning after Diwali

As the night progressed, PM2.5 levels recorded a sharp rise in multiple areas in and around Delhi, with 15 times increase in areas like India Gate

As per data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PM2.5 levels at 6 AM in,

India Gate – 911 microns (Normal level – 60 microns)

RK Puram – 776 microns (13 times more than usual)

Ashoka Vihar – 820 microns (14 times more than normal)

Anand Vihar – 617 microns (10 times more than normal)

A sharp rise was observed in the PM10 levels in the early hours of the morning after Diwali which suggest hazardous pollution levels in Delhi.

As per data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PM10 levels at 6 AM in,

India Gate – 985 microns

RK Puram – 1083 (11 times more than usual)

Anand Vihar – 2402 microns (24 times more than normal. Normal level is considered around 100 microns)

While the ban on firecrackers imposed by the Supreme Court aimed to reduce pollution levels in Delhi, figures from pollution monitoring system paint an unhealthy picture with amplified levels of air pollution.

Official figures from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are yet to be announced today. However, judging from the data available, it won’t be wrong to say that pollution levels in Delhi have increased post-Diwali.

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Biggest Ocean Polluters Named to be Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle: Study

Eighty per cent of the 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic produced since 1950 was still present in the environment, mainly in the oceans.

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Ocean , Wikimedia

Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle are among the companies that contribute most to ocean pollution with single-use plastics, according to a study presented on Tuesday by the “Break Free from Plastic” initiative.

The environmental movement, launched in 2016, has helped clear the coasts of 42 countries around the world of discarded plastics.

“These brand audits offer undeniable proof of the role that corporations play in perpetuating the global plastic pollution crisis,” said Von Hernandez, the Global Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic, at the presentation of the study in Manila.

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Plastic pollution, Pixabay

Between September 9 and 15, over 10,000 volunteers carried out 239 plastic cleaning actions on coasts and other natural environments in 42 countries, Efe news reported.

They collected more than 187,000 pieces of plastic, of which more than 65 per cent were from products by Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle. But companies such as Danone, Mondelez, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever, among others, were also mentioned in the report.

“The companies have a choice to make. They can be part of the problem or they can be part of the solution”, Hernandez told Efe.

“If they continue the use of problematic and unnecessary plastic packaging they are just encouraging more production and more pollution”.

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Coca Cola is known to spend a huge amount of money on its advertisement campaigns. Wikimedia Common

Around 100,000 pieces of plastic collected were made of materials like polystyrene, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or the film of single-use plastic that were not biodegradable, the report said.

Plastic production has reached 320 million metric tonnes per year and is expected to grow by 40 per cent over the next decade, which will exponentially increase the release of greenhouse gases. Ninety per cent of plastics are produced from fossil fuels and pollutants.

“We must act now to demand that corporate brands reject their overpackaging habit in order to meaningfully reverse the demand for new plastic,” said Hernandez.

The study said that these large corporations must take responsibility for polluting the environment, as production of plastics exposes harmful substances to communities living near factories and pollutes foods and products contained in plastic wraps.

Also Read: Use Every Resources To Help in Climate Change: Scientists

Eighty per cent of the 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic produced since 1950 was still present in the environment, mainly in the oceans, according to studies cited in the “Break Free From Plastic” report.

Since then, only 9 per cent of that plastic had been properly recycled and 12 per cent incinerated. (IANS)