Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Indian Updates: Vehicles the biggest polluters (27 Mar 2013)

Vehicles the biggest polluters

Vehicles the biggest polluters

TNN | Mar 27, 2013, 05.02 AM IST

COIMBATORE: The biggest pollutant in key southern cities is transport with increasing vehicles and limited road space, says a study conducted by New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) based on data sourced from Central Pollution Control Board. In Coimbatore and Salem, vehicles contribute a substantial part of particulate and nitrogen oxide levels in the air. Carbon emission and clogged traffic are the two major culprits of reduced air quality.

Industrial units, power plants and power generators also add to the pollution. However, the increasing number of vehicles plying the road which do not comply with the emission standards poses the biggest threat. Our studies assume that cities like Chennai are far behind in terms of air pollution because of the availability of higher quality fuel and vehicles with better emission standards. The same companies have different standards for metros and tier two cities," says Anumita Roychoudhary of CSE, who supervised the study.

Nitrogen dioxide is a serious air pollutant because it contributes to the formation of photochemical smog, which can have significant impact on health. The major source of nitrogen dioxide is the burning of fossil fuels: coal, oil and gas. Most of the nitrogen dioxide in cities comes from motor vehicle exhaust (about 80%). Other sources of nitrogen dioxide are petrol and metal refining, electricity generation from coal-fired power stations, other manufacturing industries and food processing,'' points out Anumita.

High levels of nitrogen dioxide increases the likelihood of respiratory diseases. Nitrogen dioxide inflames the lining of the lungs and reduces immunity to lung infections. This can cause problems such as wheezing, coughing, colds, flu and bronchitis. Increased levels of nitrogen dioxide can have significant impacts on people with asthma because it can cause more frequent and intense attacks. Children with asthma and senior citizens with heart disease are most at risk,'' she adds.

Encouraging car pools, cycling or walking to work include some measures that will bring down the pollution levels, apart from strengthening the public transport system. "The government too must play its part. Implementing national fuel quality standards, tighter vehicle emission standards, developing a National Environment Protection Measure for diesel, improving in-service performance of diesel vehicles and developing and promoting alternative fuels can be taken up by the union government,'' she says

Coimbatore and Salem are facing challenges not just from NO2 pollution but also from high particulate pollution (PM 10). To make matters worse, the PM10 levels have risen during the last three years. The contributors to PM10 are combustion of fossil fuels, forest and stubble fires, mechanical wear and tear of vehicle parts, smoke, dirt and dust from factories, farming, and roads.

It's high time we implement mass rapid transport system. Only a strong public transport system can bring down number of vehicles on the road which in turn will reduce pollution levels," says K Kathirmathiyon of Coimbatore Consumer Cause.


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