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					                                                               Air pollution bulletin – October 2006
                                   Right to Clean Air Campaign, Centre for Science and Environment

A close look at the polluted air

The recent initiative by the Central Pollution Control Board to generate real time air quality data in
four online monitoring stations in Delhi – ITO, Siri Fort, Delhi College of Engineering and East
Arjun Nagar, and to allow public access to the data, is an exciting opportunity to understand the
current trend in pollution in the city. The Right To Clean Air Team closely watched the trend at the
heavy traffic intersection of ITO and the residential area of Siri Fort in South Delhi in two phases
during the month of September. The ups and downs in PM2.5, nitric oxide (NO), which is directly
emitted by vehicles, NO2 (oxidised form of NO), and ozone, exposed some astonishing facts.

    !   The big surprise is the high and elevated levels of PM2.5 during the night at the ITO
        station. On some days the level is two times the level recorded during the day. PM2.5
        begins to build up after mid night, peaks around 3.00 am and then recedes around 7.00
        am in the morning. A revisit to the site during September 16-18 showed that PM2.5 rose,
        remained elevated during the night though the top peak shifted to mid morning hours.
        Otherwise for most part of the day the levels remained stable at around 30-40
        microgramme per cubic meter. Its ratio with the PM10 could not be studied, as the real
        time data for PM10 is not available.

    !   The trend in nitric oxide (NO), which is emitted directly by the vehicles, was predictably
        linked with the traffic peak hours during the day. NO generally shows multiple peaks
        during 24 hours and co-relates well with traffic peaks. It also shows a dip when ozone
        levels are high. Even during the night the levels are not very different from the high levels
        noted during the day. It normally peaks before mid night and during the wee hours of the
        morning.

    !   In both ITO and Siri Fort the pollution levels, especially NOx levels, are high during the
        peak traffic hours.

    !   The next big surprise is the rising level of ozone at Siri Fort, a residential site in south
        Delhi. Ozone begins to build up around 7.00 am in the morning when the sun rises and
        peaks around noon and after. It then begins to decline and levels off after sunset. So far
        ozone was not considered a problem in Delhi. The levels in Siri Fort have now begun to
        exceed the WHO guidelines of 2005 on some days. Are we hurtling towards another
        pollution disaster? India has not set standards for either PM2.5 or ozone yet.

What’s happening?

Has the current strategy to keep away and reduce the numbers of transit trucks failed to make an
impact?

            !    Though some steps have been taken to bypass the non-destined trucks and also
                 close a large numbers of entry points into Delhi, the truck traffic continues to
                 pollute Delhi’s air significantly. Following the Supreme Court order of December
                 6, 2001, entry of commercial transit traffic was banned unless these were
                 destined for Delhi. The Supreme Court had also ruled that no corridor joining
                 different highways should pass through Delhi. Subsequently, in 2004 the Cabinet
                 Secretary of Central Government was asked to convene a meeting of all the
                 concerned officers from Ministries of Finance, Urban Development, Road
                 Transport or any other Ministry or Department and Chief Secretaries of Delhi,
                 Haryana and U.P to expedite the construction of bypasses and the expressways.
                 Completion of the bypasses and expressways is still awaited.



CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT                                         Tel: +91-11 29955124;29956110
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area,                                                  Fax: +91-11 29955879
New Delhi, India - 110062                                                         E-mail: cse@ceindia.org
                                                             Air pollution bulletin – October 2006
                                 Right to Clean Air Campaign, Centre for Science and Environment

            !   The fact remains that the volume of the Delhi bound truck traffic is also colossal.
                A huge numbers of truck are destined to enter Delhi, as this city is a major
                wholesale trade centre for North India. Nearly 78 per cent of vegetables and
                fruits, 49 per cent of fuel, 44 per cent of iron and steel and 47 per cent of food
                grains traded in Delhi are destined for other states. The five national highways
                also bring interstate goods vehicles into the territory. This requires strong
                regulatory measures and management of the truck entry, loading and unloading.

            !   If Delhi cannot get rid of the transit truck it is important that the heavy-duty truck
                technology improves significantly to address the pollution challenge. The current
                practice of keeping emissions standards relatively advanced in a few cities and
                lax in the rest of the country is blocking improvements in the heavy-duty truck
                technology. Even though Delhi has moved on to Euro III emissions standards,
                the trucks that move on the highways and do not have access to Euro III fuels,
                continue to stagnate at Euro I and Euro II levels. These are extremely polluting
                technologies. Improved and uniform emissions standards should be enforced on
                a nation-wide scale. Air pollution control initiatives in Delhi can be seriously
                jeopardised if pollution from transit trucks and the rapidly growing vehicle
                numbers in the city are not controlled.

Time for smog alert and emergency pollution control measures

            !   Other countries use real time air quality data such as the one CPCB is
                generating today, to issue health alert to the public to enable them to take
                precaution and also enforce emergency pollution control measures to bring down
                the daily peak levels. For instance, in Mexico city when either ozone or PM10
                reach three times the standards industrial emissions are cut by at least 50 - 75
                per cent, schools are closed to reduce number of vehicles taking children to
                school, or school opening times are delayed until the temperature inversion has
                lifted during late morning hours. Vehicle usage is cut by 40 per cent, by taking off
                the polluting vehicles and allowing only those vehicles that are certified for low
                emissions. Delhi should also consider adopting a package of emergency
                pollution control measures to reduce the daily peak levels. Control measures in
                Delhi should be designed to reduce all these pollutants. If the pollution levels
                have already reached such proportion at the onset of winter, it is only going to
                get worse during the winter. The effect of inversion will be so much more lethal if
                emergency measures are not in place.


Set standards for PM2.5 and ozone

            !   We need urgent steps to set standards for PM2.5 and ozone. High levels of
                PM2.5 and the rising trend in NOx and ozone are a serious cause of worry.

Please do write and share with us your views and comments .....




CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT                                         Tel: +91-11 29955124;29956110
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area,                                                  Fax: +91-11 29955879
New Delhi, India - 110062                                                         E-mail: cse@ceindia.org
                                                             Air pollution bulletin – October 2006
                                 Right to Clean Air Campaign, Centre for Science and Environment

Graph 1: ITO Traffic Intersection –10 to 12 September 2006
Daily trend of PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide, and ozone
PM2.5 is building up at night. NOx levels also remains elevated during the night.




Source: Compiled by CSE based on CPCB data


Graph 2: Siri Fort – 10 to 12 September 2006
Daily trend of nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide, and ozone (PM2.5 data not available)
High ozone and NOx levels at Siri Fort in South Delhi




Source: Compiled by CSE based on CPCB data



CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT                                       Tel: +91-11 29955124;29956110
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area,                                                Fax: +91-11 29955879
New Delhi, India - 110062                                                       E-mail: cse@ceindia.org
                                                             Air pollution bulletin – October 2006
                                 Right to Clean Air Campaign, Centre for Science and Environment

Graph 3: ITO Traffic Intersection –16 to 18 September 2006
Daily trend of PM2.5, and ozone (Data for nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide not available)
-- PM2.5 records very high peak at ITO




Source: Compiled by CSE based on CPCB data




Graph 4: Siri Fort – 16 to 18 September 2006
Daily trend of nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide, and ozone (PM2.5 data not available)
Ozone level in Siri Fort has begun to exceed WHO guidelines of 2005. Even NOx levels are high.




Source: Compiled by CSE based on CPCB data




CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT                                       Tel: +91-11 29955124;29956110
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area,                                                Fax: +91-11 29955879
New Delhi, India - 110062                                                       E-mail: cse@ceindia.org

				
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