World Air Quality Report-2019
The World Air Quality Report is an effort of multi-stakeholders, based on the Data collected through a centralized platform and prepared by ‘IQ Air Visual’. As per the Report 90% of the global population breathes inthe air which isexceeding WHO exposure targets. Vast populations around the world lack access to air quality information.
• Countries and regions in East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia suffer from the highest annual average PM2.5 concentration weighted by population.
• Bangladesh emerged as the top country in terms of PM2.5 exposure and India ranked 5th.
• Among BRICS countries India’s rank is worst.
• Scanvandian countries, European countries and USA marked better Air quality and under exposure of PM2.5 level.
• There is a lack of monitoring data in numerous populated areas, particularly within the African and South American continents.
This report has cited that developed countries tend to have more data availability and public access, than developing countries including India.
India should enhance its monitoring network as awareness of air pollution is one of the most effective measures to tackle the problem of Air Pollution. Public air quality information drives public awareness, and creates demand for action.
This report compares the level of PM2.5, however choosing PM2.5 as parameter may not project the clear picture of State of Air Quality. For instance, majority of chemicals are responsible for poor state of air quality especially in Industrial cities.
There are different ways to calculate the average pollution index. It is the primary reason that data often differs with two respective agencies.
Meteorological conditions trapped the pollutants for instance- During winter to some extent Meteorological conditions are primarily responsible for peak level of pollution due to a Geographical phenomenon called ‘Temperature inversion.
Impacts of Poor Air Quality
Poor Air Quality have significant market impacts like-decreasing labour productivity, increasing health expenditures and declining agricultural crop yields. This can lead to global economic costs that gradually increase to 1% of global GDP by 2060.
Poor air quality can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, cause shortness of breath, aggravate asthma and other respiratory conditions, and affect the heart and cardiovascular system. Breathing polluted air for a long period of time can cause more serious problems.
India’s Initiatives for Air Quality Improvement-
2019 marked the launch of India’s first holistic National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), NCAP aims to reduce PM2.5 and PM10 air pollution in 102 cities by 20-30% by 2024 compared to 2017 levels.
India additionally joined the UN’s Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) as the 65th member to collaborate with global leaders on air pollution solutions.
India saw widespread improvements in PM2.5 levels in 2019, compared to the last years.
SAMEER app has been launched wherein air quality information is available to the public along with provision for registering complaints against air polluting activities.
Major Anthropogenic Reason for poor Air Quality India’s Initiatives
1. The burning of fossil fuels
• BS VI Emission standard: These norms would drastically reduce vehicular pollution. By 2020 onwards BS-VI compliant vehicles will be available.
• Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY): It was launched in India to promote the use of LPG as cooking fuel in order to reduce exposure to unhealthy smoke levels especially for women and children.
2. Stubble Burning • India is planning to establish the Bio-refinery in paddy regions. Crop residual will be utilized to make ethanol blended cleaner fuel.
• The government is providing subsidy on crop residue management machinery to farmers.
3. Mining and thermal Operations
• Revision of existing environmental standards and formulation of new standards for prevention and control of pollution from industries.
• Revision of emission standards including thermal power plants, cement plants, etc.
4. Agriculture • Convert agriculture residues and farm manure to electricity for rural power and biomass pellets for women who depend on biomass stoves.
• This strategy aims at developing and customizing gasification technologies for converting agricultural waste into useful energy.
5. Power and other Industry • Adopt cleaner and efficient production technologies such as supercritical technologies in power sector, vertical shaft kilns, hoffman kilns, and tunnel kilns for brick manufacturing.
• For urban households, it is recommended to improve energy efficiency of room air conditioners.
• Deploy National Emission Trading Schemes (ETS)
6. Dust and Waste (Due to rapid urbanization) • Implement wall-to-wall paving of streets and vacuum cleaning of roads; enforce ban on open burning of solid waste; manage waste and recovery of methane from landfills.
Key Parameter of the Report
This report focusses on PM2.5 Concentration level as it is harmful to human health. Its microscopic size allow the particles to enter the blood stream.
PM2.5 affect the respiratory system and travel throughout the body, causing far-reaching health effects such as-asthma, lung cancer and heart disease.
Air pollution is associated with low birth weight, increased acute respiratory infections and stroke.
PM2.5 originate from combustion of vehicle engines, industry, fires, coal burning, sandstorms, agriculture, and chemicals reacting in the atmosphere.