I’ve been living in Delhi for over a decade, and I’ve sensed the city’s air changing.
Delhi’s winter used to bring excitement – but not anymore. The dilemma of whether it’s fog or smog unfurling over the city takes away all the euphoria of sitting under the winter sun.
I remember going on a picnic with my sisters and my dog to Lodhi gardens, a well-known green oasis in the Lutyens, Delhi. I’ve since stopped doing that because I’m worried how my pug will cope, who has recently developed breathing issues.
On World Environment Day on June 5, Prime Minister Modi announced India will abolish all single-use plastic by 2022. While it’s true that India is also battling a plastic crisis, for those of us living here, it’s hard to avoid the ever-present issue of air pollution.
Media has rightly focused on this ambitious plastic pledge, but local outlets were also publishing World Environment Day articles on how to breathe clean air both indoors and outdoors, including measures like avoiding morning walks and outdoor activities for children, and introducing certain plants into your home.
This, for us, is everyday life.
India has only recently decided to look at precautionary rather than reactionary measures to tackle the air pollution crisis and finalised a National Clean Air Action Programme. We were half hoping for an announcement on it on World Environment Day – but the announcement never came.
The truth is that air pollution is not restricted to one city. It’s a global phenomena. India and China are famous for making headlines for the deadliest air pollution, but while China has by and large managed to reduce PM2.5 levels by enacting a Clean Air Action Plan, pollution levels in India are still on the up.
So is it just a gap in policy that limits India in tackling the airpocalyptic situation? The answer is no. In India, the public outrage over air pollution is still seasonal.
In China, public anger prompted the government to declare war on pollution in 2013. When London crossed a legal limit of monitoring nitrogen dioxide, the government declared a National Health Emergency.
So why are we Indians so complacent towards environmental degradation?
I remember reading one journalist who said “you never see ‘air pollution’ written as the cause on death certificates.”
Maybe because air pollution does not destroy buildings in an instant, unlike natural disasters. On the contrary, it slowly creeps into our bodies as a silent killer.
A new study by Louisiana State University (LSU) points out that 13 measures could reduce air pollution levels by almost 40 percent, and avoid 900,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution in India every year. The implementation of these measures may also lead to 50-60 percent reduction of wintertime PM2.5 levels across North India, including Delhi.
The measures put forward by the study were in line with recommendations sent to the Ministry of Environment by clean air collectives in reaction to the National Clean Air Programme. Maybe unsurprisingly, reducing emissions from coal based power plants offers the largest potential for air quality improvements.
Soon, India will have a national plan to combat air pollution. But the bigger challenge will always be its implementation. Mindsets in India need to change. We are in the midst of a catastrophe and only a movement steered by the people can show us all a way out of our air pollution problem.
Join our efforts here.
Madhulika Verma is a Communications Officer with Greenpeace India
It is clear a national and perhaps also a world priority.
How to reduce Industrial Air Pollution. There are several equipments used to filter and retain PM - Particulate Material and/or Gases generated by industries that use iron ore, coal, oil, gas, waste and others feedstock in their industrial processes. With the combined use of 2 of the equipments mentioned below, now there is solution to eliminate much of this pollution. A) ESP: Electrostatic Precipitator. B) ESP-SS: Electrostatic Precipitator with Selective Switching. C) ACI: Activated Carbon Injection or DSI: Dry Sorbent Injection. D) ESP-SS/ACI/DSI: which is the combination of equipments B and C. E) Post-treatment equipment: Scrubber, Bag Filter, or other. The new technology SS, mentioned in item B) was developed inside the Federal University of ES - UFES in Vitória/Brasil, and is capable of retaining 60% of the Pollution that the current filters do not hold and released into atmosphere through the chimneys by thousands of industries worldwide. It is known that iron ore and/or fossil fuels and waste used as feedstock in base industry and/or thermoelectric power plants have many organic and metallic components in their structure, therefore: • They generate millions of tons of Particulate Material and Gases, not retained by industrial filters, and release them into the atmosphere. Even gas and oil, used by Thermoelectric, which release small amounts of ash, release large quantities of gases with many toxins, as well as mercury, arsenic, lead, radio isotopes, and others. • The big challenge is to capture these gaseous components. • Now, with ESP-SS/ACI/DSI this capture will be done, because the activated carbon ou sorbents to be injected into the ESP-SS/ACI/DSI will aggregate these gases in their surface area, allowing the capture and retention. • Injection of activated carbon and/or sorbents is already done in some Thermoelectric in the USA that use ESP without SS technology, and thus only manage to aggregate and retain small amounts of Gases. • Studies show that when granulation of the activated carbon ir sorbent currently used in the present ESP, of 19 μm in diameter, could be substituted for others with super fine diameter, a very large increase in the retention of these gases will occur. Currently activated carbon or sorbent of 19 μm is used because current ESP does not have technical capacity to retain PMs with smaller diameter. • The ESP-SS, already is the solution to capture 60% of all the particulate material currently emitted into the atmosphere, and when become a ESP-SS/ACI/DSI using activated carbon and / or sorbent of PM size 0.1 up to 1.0 μm, will capture a very large percentage of the gases. This is possible because ESP-SS has the technical capacity to retain all the PMs greater than PM 0.1 μm. • The ESP-SS/ACI/DSI, in the 2º step, that will be available in 3 years, when it is ready the new version of Relay LP 100 KV, fundamental piece of the Technology SS, produced in the UNITED STATES under license of TCS Ltda, will be able to retain over 95% of PMs and Gases today released into the atmosphere, and then the use of any post -treatment equipment, mentioned in item E), will no longer be necessary. • The TCS Company, owner of the World Patent of SS technology, is negotiating the sale of the aforementioned Patent to an American or a Chinese Group, and hopes to start the manufacturing the first ESP-SS/ACI/DSI equipment still during 2018. * PS: This new technology, the Selective Switching - SS - is already being installed in a Brazilian company, in Vitoria / ES / Brazil.