Air Pollution Plaguing India

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BRETHING IS KILLING!

NEW DELHI – Outdoor airpollution caused 6.2 prematuredeaths in India in 2010, which isa six-fold jump from the 1 lakhdeaths in 2000. This makes pollutedoutdoor air the largestkiller in India after high bloodpressure, indoor air pollution(mainly from smoking chullahs),tobacco use, and poor nutrition,says the Global Burden ofDisease 2013, which tracksdeaths and illnesses from allcauses every 10 years.One in three people in India livein critically-polluted areas thathave noxious levels of nitrogendioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide(SO2) and lung-clogging particulatematter larger than 10micron (PM10) in size. Of the180 cities monitored by India’sCentral Pollution Control Boardin 2012, only two — Malapuramand Pathanamthitta in Kerala —meet the criteria of low air pollution(50% below the standard).Vehicles are the biggest air polluters.“In Delhi, for example,1,400 vehicles are added to theroads each day and contribute tomore than 70% of air pollution.Barely 20 Indian cities followEuro4 emission standards fornew vehicles, most followEuro3. Euro4 is seven yearsbehind European standards andEuro3 is behind by 12 years,”says Anumita Roychowdhury,research and advocacy, Centrefor Science and Environment(CSE). In Delhi, one death takesplace every hour due to air pollution.Though air quality monitoringhas doubled between 2005 and2010 from 96 to 180 cities, thenumber of cities with low pollutionhas fallen from 10 to 2,while critically-polluted citieshave risen from 49 to 89.For indoor pollution, the dailypermissible limit is 100 microgramper cubic metre (μg/m³)for PM10 and 60 μg/m³ forPM2.5. In many rural homes,the level is between 500 and 600μg/m³. “We need clean-burningchullahs, especially LPG-basedones as even kerosene burningresults in toxic byproducts,” sheadds.Vehicles are the biggest airpolluters. “In Delhi, for example,1,400 vehicles are added tothe roads each day and contributeto more than 70% of airpollution. Barely 20 Indiancities follow Euro4 emissionstandards for new vehicles, mostfollow Euro3. Euro4 is sevenyears behind European standardsand Euro3 is behind by 12years,” says AnumitaRoychowdhury, research andadvocacy, Centre for Scienceand Environment (CSE). InDelhi, one death takes placeevery hour due to air pollution.Though air quality monitoringhas doubled between 2005 and2010 from 96 to 180 cities, thenumber of cities with low pollutionhas fallen from 10 to 2,while critically-polluted citieshave risen from 49 to 89.For indoor pollution, the dailypermissible limit is 100 microgramper cubic metre (μg/m³)for PM10 and 60 μg/m³ forPM2.5. In many rural homes,the level is between 500 and 600μg/m³. “We need clean-burningchullahs, especially LPG-basedones as even kerosene burningresults in toxic byproducts,” sheadds.No one quite recalls exactlywhen the non-perennial naturaldrain across Ludhiana calledBudha Dariya (river) came to becalled Budha Nullah (drain), butmost people who live along itsbanks vouch for its toxicity. Sochoked is the drain with industrialeffluents and sewage thatcalcium, magnesium, fluoride,mercury, beta-endosulphan andheptachlor pesticide make bothground and tap water unfit fordrinking, found a study by thePost Graduate Institute ofMedical Education andResearch (PGIMER) in 2008.Compared to the other 65 wardsin Ludhiana, 1.2 lakh people livingin the 10 wards along BudhaNullah have much higher incidenceof chronic stomach disorders,hepatitis A and cancers ofthe bladder, kidneys, lung, skin,colon and liver. Rickshaw-pullerSunder Lal, 50, died in Octoberthis year after battling liver cancerfor two years.