U.P. tops list of States emitting fine particulate matter: study

Uttar Pradesh is the largest emitter of PM2.5, the class of particulate matter considered most harmful to health, according to an analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water ( CEEW). The Council, a research body, looked at five of the most reliable data sources — international and national — that have tracked and measured the quantum and sources of air pollution in India.

The high emissions from U.P. were largely due to a significant share of PM2.5 emissions from solid-fuel use in households and, by virtue of being India’s most populous State, had a higher proportion of households relying on this form of fuel.

Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan too feature in the list of top polluters but are differently ranked by the five sources. Only Uttar Pradesh is at the top of everyone’s list.

Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and the Northeastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram, were among the lowest emitters of PM2.5.

Depending on the data source used, U.P.’s PM2.5 emissions ranged from 588 to 976 kilo-tons (Kt) per year whereas Maharashtra’s estimated PM2.5 emissions ranged from 415-549 Kt.

The five data sources used are: Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), maintained by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre; Evaluating the Climate and Air Quality Impacts of Shortlived Pollutants (ECLIPSE), maintained by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA); Regional Emission Inventory in Asia (REAS), maintained by the National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan (NIES); Speciated Multipolluter Generator (SMoG),maintained by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Bombay); and Spatially resolved pollution emission inventory for India, maintained by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Common pollutants

There are differences in the periods over which these sources track the emissions as well as the pollutants, but most track the important ones: PM2.5, PM10, Nox (nitrous oxides), SO2 (Sulphur dioxide), CO (Carbon Monoxide), NH3 (Ammonia), and NMVOC (Non-methane volatile organic compounds).

They also track the sources of pollutants ranging from agriculture waste burning, power utilities, industry, dust, transport and waste which account for nearly 95% of the sources of air pollution.

The CEEW analysis found “significant variation” in the estimates by various sources going up to as much as 37% for particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), Nitrogen oxide (NOx), Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO). The overall variation in residential PM2.5 emissions was less than 25%. However, SMoG’s residential PM2.5 emission estimates are approximately 50% higher than those estimated by TERI. These differences had to do with the way each agency calculated emissions and the data sources they relied on.

Database needed

Because of the extent of variation, the Council said India ought to “develop and maintain a comprehensive inventory of baseline emissions” to evaluate if its policy and technological interventions were succeeding in reducing air pollution.

India has a National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP) that aims to reduce pollution in 122 of the most polluted cities by 2024. “To meet the NCAP target of 20-30% reduction in particulate concentration by 2024, we need to estimate emission reductions needed across sectors. Estimating these reductions will only be possible when we have an official, representative emission inventory for India,” said Tanushree Ganguly, Programme Lead, CEEW, and lead author of the study.

The authors recommend that developing a national emissions database would mean methods and data sources to calculate annual increase or decrease in emissions be used consistently. Government departments need to collaborate with each other for updating the emissions estimates periodically, they said.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 3:33:49 AM |

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