Study of Air pollution in India by CEEW

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    • Uttar Pradesh is the largest emitter of PM2.5 according to an analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water ( CEEW). 

    Council on Energy, Environment and Water(CEEW )

    • It is one of Asia’s leading not-for-profit policy research institutions
    • It uses data, integrated analysis, and strategic outreach to explain – and change – the use, reuse, and misuse of resources.

    Major Findings 

    • The high emissions from U.P. were largely due to a significant share of PM2.5 emissions from solid-fuel use in households and, by virtue of being India’s most populous state, had a higher proportion of households relying on this form of fuel.
    • Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan feature in the list of top polluters but are differently ranked by the five sources. 
    • Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and the Northeastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram, were among the lowest emitters of PM2.5.
    • Common pollutants:
      • There are differences in the periods over which these sources track the emissions as well as the pollutants, but most track the important ones:
        • PM2.5, PM10, Nox (nitrous oxides), SO2 (Sulphur dioxide), CO (Carbon Monoxide), NH3 (Ammonia), and NMVOC (Non-methane volatile organic compounds).
        • They also track the sources of pollutants ranging from agriculture waste burning, power utilities, industry, dust, transport and waste which account for nearly 95% of the sources of air pollution.
    • Significant variation: The CEEW analysis found “significant variation” in the estimates by various sources going up to as much as 37% for particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), Nitrogen oxide (NOx), Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO). 
      • The overall variation in residential PM2.5 emissions was less than 25%.
        • However, SMoG’s residential PM2.5 emission estimates are approximately 50% higher than those estimated by TERI. 
      • These differences had to do with the way each agency calculated emissions and the data sources they relied on.
    • Recommendations: 
      • Government departments need to collaborate with each other for updating the emissions estimates periodically.
      • Because of the extent of variation, the Council said India ought to “develop and maintain a comprehensive inventory of baseline emissions” to evaluate if its policy and technological interventions were succeeding in reducing air pollution.
      • India has a National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP) that aims to reduce pollution in 122 of the most polluted cities by 2024. 
        • To meet the NCAP target of 20-30% reduction in particulate concentration by 2024, we need to estimate emission reductions needed across sectors. 
        • Estimating these reductions will only be possible when we have an official, representative emission inventory for India.

    What is Air pollution?

    • Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air that is detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole.
    • Source of Air Pollution
      • Nitrogen dioxide: It is one of the major pollutants and major sources of NOx include emissions from motor vehicle exhaust, industrial facilities, and chemical solvents.
      • Agriculture & Allied Sources: Ammonia (NH3) -It is another gaseous pollutant that is monitored.
        • It occurs naturally in air, soil and water, and is used as an agricultural fertiliser and in cleaning products.
        • Short-term inhalation of high levels of ammonia can cause irritation and serious burns in the mouth, lungs and eyes.
    • Stubble burning: It is also one of the major sources of air pollution in northern India, especially in winters.
    • Sulphur dioxide (SO2): They emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels have, historically, been the main component of air pollution in many parts of the world.
      • The largest source of SO2 in the atmosphere is burning fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial facilities.
      • Short-term exposure to SO2 can harm the respiratory system, making breathing more difficult.
    • Particulate Matter:  Particulate matter (PM) are inhalable and respirable particles composed of sulphate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water.
      • Both PM2.5 and PM10 are capable of penetrating deep into the lungs but PM2.5 can even enter the bloodstream, primarily resulting in cardiovascular and respiratory impacts, and also affecting other organs. 
      • In 2013, outdoor air pollution and particulate matter were classified as carcinogenic by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
    • Carbon monoxide (CO): It is a toxic, colourless and odourless gas, given off when fuel containing carbon, such as wood, coal and petrol, are burned.
      • Major sources of methane include waste and fossil fuel and agricultural industry.
    • Ozone (O3): It occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. At the ground, O3 is created by the chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds.
      • It is formed when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, refineries and other sources chemically react in presence of sunlight.
      • It can trigger a variety of health problems, including chest pain, throat irritation and airway inflammation.

    Associated risks 

    • Air pollution is a threat to health in all countries, but it hits people in low- and middle-income countries the hardest. 
    • Every year, exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million premature deaths and result in the loss of millions more healthy years of life. 
    • In children, this could include reduced lung growth and function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. 
    • In adults, ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of premature death attributable to outdoor air pollution, and evidence is also emerging of other effects such as diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions.
    • This puts the burden of disease attributable to air pollution on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking.
    • There is a body of scientific evidence to prove that air pollution is leading to severe health impacts and 90% of the entire global population is breathing polluted air.

    Solutions Provided by WHO 

                                         Image Courtesy: WHO

    Steps Taken by Government

    • The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Household LPG program and other schemes have helped to dramatically expand access to clean energy, especially for rural households.
    • National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
      • It was launched in 2019)now renamed National Clear Air Mission which aims to reduce the particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) concentrations in the air by 20–30% by 2024.
    • Commission for Air Quality Management
      • The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas, 2020 — with a provision for a fine of Rs 1 crore and/or jail for 5 years for those violating air pollution norms.

    Source: TH