Saturday, November 29, 2008

What is Particulate Matter?

For urban air pollution, among the many pollutants that are critical, the particulate (PM) pollution is the most important.

A working paper, supporting the SIM-air program presents "What is Particulate Matter?". This paper describes the composition of PM (by size and chemistry, primary and secondary), sources estimation based on studies around the world using bottom up (via emissions) and top-down (via source apportionment) methodologies, and impacts of PM on health and environment.

Cities highlighted in the paper are
  • India - Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune
  • Brazil - Sao Paulo
  • Chile - Santiago
  • Mexico - Mexico City
  • Peru - Lima
  • China - Beijing, Shanghai
  • Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar
  • Nepal - Kathmandu
  • Bangladesh - Dhaka
  • Thailand - Bangkok
  • Philippines - Manila
  • Vietnam - Hanoi
Also see

Friday, November 28, 2008

Non-Motorized Transport - Is it Worth it?

Yes, it does in many ways and one group lists 28 reasons to bike.
  1. Increase in local property values
  2. Correlation with Overall Wealth
  3. Less Public Money Is Needed To Create a High Quality Transportation System
  4. High-Tech Business Is Attracted by a Perceived Better Quality of Life
  5. Improved Personal Finances
  6. Better Physical Health
  7. Better Mental and Emotional Health
  8. Fewer Overweight and Obese Citizens
  9. More Free Time
  10. More Beauty
  11. Greater Mobility
  12. Inclusion of Senior Citizens
  13. More Equitable Living for Low Income Earners
  14. Increased Sense of Community
  15. Individual Opportunities for Safer Travel
  16. Less Congested Roads
  17. Safer, Quieter Neighborhoods
  18. More Resources for Public Use
  19. Enhanced and More Credible Metropolitan Image
  20. Better Air Quality
  21. Visually More Appealing Metropolitan Area
  22. Cleaner Surface and Ground Water
  23. Quieter City
  24. Slowed Pace of Global Warming
  25. More Sustainable Lifestyle
  26. Recognition for Leadership in Sound Environmental Policy
  27. Readiness for Other Environmental Initiatives
  28. Enhanced Quality of Life for Women
Also see

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Estimating Health Impacts of Urban Air Pollution

A working paper, supporting the SIM-air program presents a methodology, resources (dose response functions for mortality and morbidity), and example calculations for Estimating Health Impacts of Urban Air Pollution.

Air pollution in the urban centers is a growing concern for the public and government bodies; owing to growing number of vehicles on the road, increasing number of industries, domestic use of fossil and biomass fuels for heating and cooking. And the consequences of being exposed to air pollution due to various pollutants, such as:
  • Effects on human health - Premature mortality, asthma attacks, respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, oxygen deficiency in blood, eye irritation, and genetic and reproductive damages
  • Effects on vegetation - Productivity loss and slower photosynthesis for vegetation
  • Effects on material and structure - Corrosion of metal, accelerated erosion on building and monument
  • Effects on comfort and aesthetics - Bad smell, reduced vision distance, quick paling of paint on buildings
  • Effects on ecosystem (atmosphere, soil and water body) - Local human health), regional (acid rain), and global (climate change)
It is important to note that that
  • The methodology is based on empirical dose response functions based on epidemiological studies conducted around the world and the calculations based on these should be taken into consideration as guidelines for comparison and decision making and should not be taken literally for conclusions.
  • The uncertainty exists in calculations, every step of the way, but this is a good place to start, especially when comparing scenarios and establishing the cost effectiveness of the interventions with human health estimates as a baseline.
  • The results of this methodology are as good as the inputs. The more detailed the analysis on the spatial distribution of the pollution levels for various scenarios and exposure levels based on the population distribution, the better the results.
  • A literature search of similar studies in the region and the methodologies applied will help better the equation.
For more details

Also see

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Co-Benefits: Management Options for Local Pollution & GHG Emissions Control

While discussing the co-benefits, it is important to understand two things. (a) Economic, social, and environmental growth (triple bottom line) – occurs first in the urban centers (b) The urban centers will be the first to react to any policy and regulation changes on emission control – local and global.

Focusing on global emissions alone will not be enough - we need to get out of this pervasive either-or thinking. Local pollution and global climate change are not mutually exclusive. Instead, they are meant to be tackled together. One without the other will not work. It’s a matter of simple mathematics and increasing the effectiveness of the interventions via co-benefits.

Due to regulations and compliance issues for urban centers – industrial and residential, the primary driver for any policy intervention remains the local air pollution. It is important to note that reducing local air pollution via technical, policy, or economic interventions, leads to co-benefits reducing not only the particulate pollution but also regional pollutants such as sulfur dioxide causing acid rain or carbon dioxide leading to climate change.

Point being, for an effective strategy towards a low carbon society, actions need to be customized and addressed at the local level, with local priorities at hand.

Full paper on "Co-Benefit Options" for urban Asia is available as SIM Working Papers @