Sources and factors influencing air pollution

One of the suggestions to deal with dust was to set up artificial lakes.   | Photo Credit: K_MURALI_KUMAR

From planes and buses to refineries and factories, there are multiple sources of air pollution. These are complex processes that lead to formation of new particulate matter and precursor gas molecules – both of which are harmful to our lungs, said scientists and researchers at the India Clean Air Summit 2019.

Another threat is ‘transboundary’ pollution, which may originate in one area but can make its harmful effects felt in another location.

Prof. S.N. Tripathi, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur, who did extensive research on the issue in the NCR region, said the primary PM emitted in the nearby region either through transport emissions or biomass undergo complex processes in the air and reach New Delhi.

The other panellists said that to combat air pollution that is transboundary and flows in from the surrounding regions or even international borders, a ‘city only’ approach to mitigating will not help. There should be a city and rural collaboration, they said.

Sumit Sharma, Director, Earth Science and Climate Change, TERI, mentioned how different scientific tools can help design accurate strategies to deal with air pollution. Apart from being a health hazard, he pointed to how it impacts agricultural yields. “About 30% of wheat in India is getting destroyed because of high ozone pollution. There are links between particulate matter like aerosols with climate; it changes the climatic pattern. The sectors contributing the most particulate matter are transport, industries, biomass, and dust,” he said.

Speaking about the importance of satellite data in combating air pollution, Sagnik Dey from the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, IIT Delhi, said, “While ground-based data might be accurate, using satellites in tandem will give you extremely accurate data.” Using technology in this manner will help the relevant agencies understand the heavily populated areas and the industries emitting harmful emissions. Once the data is gathered, the relevant actions can be taken, he said.

Lakes as a solution

Scientists, policy makers, academics and other experts offered a variety of suggestions to curb air pollution.

Umesh Chandra Kulshrestha, Professor, School of Environmental Sciences, JNU, said to deal with dust, a solution is to set up artificial lakes. He said when water from these lakes evaporate, they carry the dust with them and when it rains, dust settles on the ground.

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 1:49:34 PM |

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