Thursday, September 29, 2016

Event - Air Pollution Data Management (Delhi, November 25-26, 2016)

OpenAQ (, in partnership with Care for Air, (, an independent clean air awareness and advocacy platform and Urban Emissions (, is coming to New Delhi to introduce our open-source global air quality data platform ( and convene a diverse and passionate group of open air quality data enthusiasts! We'll hold sessions for participants to introduce the platform and what others in our community around the world are already building. But most importantly, most of the workshop will consist of sessions where participants will brainstorm together new ways to use open data to fight 'air inequality' in Delhi, India and the world. The workshop will be collaborative, fun, and impactful.

Who should apply to attend: We're looking for 30 software developers, air pollution + health experts (atmospheric scientists to epidemiologists to medical doctors), journalists, artists, policy-oriented individuals, government air quality folks, students, and open environmental data lovers to join us. Most of all, we're looking for people willing to genuinely connect and work with others outside of their sector to build awesome stuff. That's where we think the magic happens.

Submit your application here

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pollution Could Rise Due to Electric Car Boom in Europe

A boom in electric cars means Europe would have to look at building the equivalent of nearly 50 power stations the size of the UK’s planned Hinkley Point nuclear plant, EU experts have warned. And if big fleets of plug-in cars are charged with electricity from power plants burning coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, overall levels of SO2 air pollution are likely to rise, a study from the government-funded European Environment Agency shows. Read the full article @ Financial Times

Cars that run on batteries are widely regarded as an unalloyed environmental blessing compared with dirtier, smellier petrol or diesel vehicles and the new research confirms that a big shift to plug-in transport offers many benefits. On average, there would be a noticeable fall in emissions of some types of air pollution, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, as well as planet-warming carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas produced by human activities.

If the vehicles reach an 80 per cent share by 2050, the EEA study found this would require an extra 150 gigawatts of electricity for charging. The amount of electricity generated by clean renewable power plants has risen significantly across the EU since 1990, according to EU data that show wind, solar and hydropower accounted for 25 per cent of the bloc’s electricity in 2014. Nuclear power plants contributed 27 per cent but nearly 48 per cent still came from coal, natural gas and oil. The EEA study builds on work by the agency showing that if coal power alone were used to charge electric cars, the vehicles’ lifetime carbon emissions would be higher than that of petrol or diesel counterparts. Air pollution experts said the agency’s findings underlined the need for countries to consider carefully how to generate greener electricity as plug-in car numbers grow.

Paris Enjoys Its Second Car Free Day

Paris banned cars from large swaths of the French capital on Sunday as part of Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s wider efforts to fight air pollution. But critics say her policies are only shifting the problem elsewhere. Around half of Paris was off limits to cars during a seven-hour period for the capital’s second “Day without cars” (Journée sans voitures), with exceptions made for public buses, taxis and emergency vehicles. This year’s event was even more ambitious than in 2015, covering 650 km of the city. Some areas around the capital were limited exclusively to pedestrians from 11am this morning, with many free recreational and educational events organised for city residents as part of the much-publicised event.

Read the full article @ France24

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Existing Coal, Oil and Gas Fields Will Blow Carbon Budget

The world’s working coal mines and oil and gas fields contain enough carbon to push the world beyond the threshold for catastrophic climate change, according to a report released on Thursday. If all the existing fuel were to be burned, projects currently operating or under construction could be expected to release 942Gt CO2, said the report by US-based thinktank Oil Change International (OCI). This exceeds the carbon limits that would most likely warm the world 1.5C and even over 2C above the pre-industrial average. These were limits agreed at last year’s climate conference in Paris.

It has been established for some time that the enormous unworked reserves claimed by fossil fuel companies contain vastly too much carbon to ever be burned safely. But OCI said that this was the first time an analysis had been done of how much greenhouse gas is stored in projects already working or under construction.

Founder of and climate campaign Bill McKibben said the report “change[d] our understanding of where we stand. Profoundly”. It means that even if not a single new coal mine, oil or gas field were opened up, the carbon budget would be at risk, said OCI’s executive director Stephen Kretzmann. Projected investment in new extraction sites and infrastructure over the next 20 years adds up to a staggering US$14tn, the report found. “Continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry is now quite clearly and quantifiably climate denial,” said Kretzmann.

Read the full report @ the Guardian

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Video - Battling Indoor Air Pollution

Research has shown that indoor air could be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Air purifiers provide a simple and effective solution to tackle the problem but with a range of variants available in the market, choosing the right one could become a harrowing task @ Hindustan Times

Fight for Clean Air in Delhi

“Air pollution causes short-term problems like cough, sore throat and eye irritation for most people, but people with chronic respiratory disorders such as asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) may need medical management when pollution levels go up,” said Dr Rajesh Chawla, consulting pulmonologist at Indraprastha Apollo hospital. Read the full article @ Hindustan Times

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Video - Change the Air (GAIL, India)

An Indian is dying every 23 seconds due to Air Pollution. Come 2030 and fuels we use today would have made air so toxic with pollutants that it would be well neigh impossible to live and move without oxygen kit as a permanent saddle.

Change the Air Campaign

Saturday, September 17, 2016

On-road Emissions in Indian Cities are ~25 times Higher than Conventionally Measured Rates

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) have developed a “real-time exhaust emission prediction model,” stated to be for the first time, that can help manage urban air quality and aid traffic planning in India.

Imagine a mobile app flashing emission levels of your car in real time, helping you to make necessary changes in driving, assisting policy makers in managing grid-wise traffic flow, indicating roads that register the highest pollution levels and warrant traffic decongestion, besides improving the Indian emission standards. IIT-M Ph.D student Rohit Jaykumar, who developed the model, claims that all this can be realised with the artificial neural network (ANN)-based new prediction model.

A sample study was conducted using 10 different diesel passenger cars under different traffic conditions to measure three pollutants, including nitrogen oxide (NOX), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC). Sardar Patel Road (3.2 km), which has four lanes, and the two-lane Velachery Main Road (4.4 km) were used for the testing. Separate software was indigenously developed to sync onboard diagnostics (OBD) port in the vehicles and ARAI certified AVL Digas analyzer, which can record emissions at 1 Hz under real-world operating conditions.

“The results were astonishing. The vehicular emissions were 25 times higher than conventional predictions,” Jaykumar said and added that he had now widened the scope of study to test the model for different types of vehicles.

Read the full article @ Times of India

Bad Quality and High Sulfur Diesel in Africa

Swiss firms have been criticised in a report for their links to the African trade in diesel with toxin levels that are illegal in Europe. Campaign group Public Eye says retailers are exploiting weak regulatory standards. Vitol, Trafigura, Addax & Oryx and Lynx Energy have been named because they are shareholders of the fuel retailers. Trafigura and Vitol say the report is misconceived and retailers work within legal limits enforced in the countries. Three of the distribution companies mentioned in the report have responded by saying that they meet the regulatory requirements of the market and have no vested interest in keeping sulphur levels higher than they need to be.

Although this is within the limits set by national governments, the sulphur contained in the fumes from the diesel fuel could increase respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis in affected countries, health experts say. The picture is changing but there are still several African countries which allow diesel to have a sulphur content of more than 2,000 parts per million (ppm), with some allowing more than 5,000ppm, whereas the European standard is less than 10ppm.

Rob de Jong from the UN Environment Programme (Unep) told the BBC that there was a lack of awareness among some policy makers about the significance of the sulphur content. For a long time countries relied on colonial-era standards, which have only been revised in recent years. Another issue is that in the countries where there are refineries, these are unable, for technical reasons, to reduce the sulphur levels to the standard acceptable in Europe. This means that the regulatory standard is kept at the level that the refineries can operate at. Some governments are also worried that cleaner diesel would be more expensive, therefore pushing up the price of transport. But Mr De Jong argued that the difference was minimal and oil price fluctuations were much more significant in determining the diesel price.

Read the full article @ BBC

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Infographic - Timeline of Earth's Average Surface Temperature


Beijing to Limit the Number the Vehicles to 6 Million by 2017

Deputy mayor of Beijing, said on August 13 that curbing the amount of cars on the roads is a big and direct challenge to limiting PM2.5 emissions. In addition to reducing vehicles on the roads by the end of next year, Zhang said Beijing is also set to upgrade the fuel standard. Vehicle emissions are believed to be the main contributing factor to pollution. Zhang said he hopes that limiting traffic in the capital city will control the emissions from cars and encourage residents to reduce vehicle use.

Improving air quality is a key priority for Beijing. In December last year, the city announced the first of a series of 'red alert' pollution warnings. The warnings advised educational institutions to close down and ordered cars to only drive on an odd-even number plate basis. Beijing still has a tough fight ahead of it, Zhang said, and he highlighted a gap between the country's standard and public anticipation. In Beijing, the PM2.5 density on an annual average is 1.3 times higher as the national limit.

By giving priority to public transportation, developing footpaths and bicycle lanes, and providing public bicycle rental services are key measures to building a greener traffic network, Zhang added. Beijing's subway and rail network is expected to reach over 900 km by 2020. With continued public awareness of vehicular emissions, measures to control the number of cars on the road, as well as providing alternative measures and innovative transport services, the fight against pollution in Beijing can make steady steps towards the over-all improvement of air quality in the city.

Read the full article @ CriEnglish

Air Quality Monitors in India Need Calibration

NPL has now asked the country's central pollution watchdog, CPCB, and the pollution control boards of all states to calibrate their instruments with the standard fixed by them.

Lack of calibration of pollution-measuring instruments has been hampering efforts of the country's pollution watchdog to come out with accurate data on air pollution. When Delhi experimented with car rationing (odd-even) schemes to tackle the problem of air pollution, people wondered why the different agencies showed different figures for emission level of pollutants in the capital.

It had intrigued even policy-makers. But scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) of the CSIR knew that the answers to many such questions lay with pollution measuring instruments which were not calibrated to standardised form. There was, in fact, no standardisation of such pollution-measuring instruments in India and therefore there was no calibration as per the standard norms considering different functional parameters of such equipment. As a result, even the national air quality index, being released everyday by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), does not give an absolutely correct picture of the level of pollution in different cities.

Read the full article @ Times of India

Stop Stubble Burning in Punjab and Haryana, to Control Air Pollution in Delhi this Winter

The growing menace of stubble burning in states like Haryana and Punjab, which is a major cause of air pollution in the national capital, today led the Delhi High Court to direct the government to ensure "zero burning" of bio-mass this year. A bench of justices B D Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar expressed concern that farmers would again burn the residue of a harvesting season to sow the next crop after Diwali this year, causing air pollution in and around Delhi. "We are very serious this time. We do not want to see the burning of bio-mass this year like the previous year," the bench said, while asking the Centre "why can't it stop such practices being adopted by the farmers".

"We want it to be zero burning this year. It should be stopped completely," the court said this on being informed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change that banning of stubble burning by states of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan has resulted 38.93 per cent reduction in stubble burning in Punjab and 20.3 per cent reduction in Haryana. The bench observed that Delhi was already full of diseases and stubble burning would add to air pollution.

Read the full article @ Business Standard

Check out the air quality forecasts and modeled source contributions @ Delhi Air Quality. Info

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Air Pollution in Bangladesh Costs $2.6 Billion Annually

Deaths caused by air pollution cost Bangladesh economy nearly $2.6 billion in foregone labour output in 2013, which accounts for 0.58% of its GDP, says a new World Bank Report. The amount compares with $1.2 billion in 1990 and the total number of air pollution-related deaths, causing human suffering and reducing economic development, rose to 27,452 from 6,379 in the 23 years to 2013.

While pollution-related deaths strike mainly young children and the elderly, premature deaths also result in lost labour income for working-age men and women. The study, released on Thursday last, says air pollution robs nations of significant potential to grow, which after being calculated through total ‘welfare losses’ and loss in labour output, reaches a staggering amount especially for developing countries.

Between 1990 and 2013, the total welfare losses in Bangladesh stood at $27.5 billion, making up 6.5% of its GDP. The annual labour income lost from pre-mature deaths by air pollution in Southeast Asia accounted for 0.83% of the region’s GDP in the same year.  The aggregate cost of premature deaths was more than US$5 trillion worldwide in 2013. In East and South Asia, welfare losses related to air pollution were the equivalent of about 7.5% of GDP. In 2013, China lost nearly 10% of its GDP, India 7.69%, while Sri Lanka and Cambodia each lost roughly 8%, as a result of pollution-related deaths.

Read the full article @ Dhaka Tribune

In India, Air Pollution Costs 8% GDP Annually

The latest World Bank report about the adverse affects of air pollution in India is yet another reminder that the country can afford to continue the lackluster approach to the menace at its peril. The study not only underlines the sinister health hazards that the country’s policymakers have been ignoring blissfully, but also reveals that the cost of combating air pollution is much less than the cost to the economy in terms of loss of workdays.

The study that computes the economic costs of indoor and outdoor pollution reveals that China loses nearly 10 per cent of its GDP, India 8.5 per cent and Sri Lanka and Cambodia roughly 8 per cent. Air pollution is the fourth leading cause of premature deaths worldwide behind smoking, diet and obesity and is responsible for over six times the number of deaths caused by malaria.

That China is the worst culprit is hardly any compensation. As another international study by US-based Health Effects Institute (HEI) points out, the death rate from air pollution in India will outpace China’s, as India drags its heels over environmental rules while opening more coal mines. “Chinese actions to control emissions from coal power plants and from industries are considerably more strong than the ones in India,” cautions Dan Greenbaum, president of HEI. China aims to cut coal output by 500 million tonnes, or about 19 per cent of its current annual output by 2020, and reduce emission of major pollutants in the power sector by 60 per cent.

Read the full report @ Indian Express

Check out air pollution forecasts @ India Air Quality. Info 

Global Air Pollution Costs $255 Billion Annually

Worldwide air pollution caused 5.5 million deaths in 2013 from lung cancer stroke, bronchitis and other diseases -- more than malaria or AIDS; And the cost of pollution-related illness and deaths is $255 billion in lost labor last year, the World Bank said in a new report on Sept 8. One tenth of all deaths in 2013 came from air pollution, said the World Bank. But the real cost is even higher - more than $5 trillion in 2013 a year - when the Bank economists included what they call "welfare costs" - the money people would be willing to pay to prevent an early death. One in ten deaths around world is from air pollution, said the Bank's report authors. And even if London, New York and other wealthy cities have greatly cut pollution in recent decades, the toxic fumes have greatly increased in China, India and other growing economies. Read the full article @ Huffington Post

@ The World Bank - The Cost of Air Pollution report seeks to strengthen the economic case for acting to curb air pollution and save lives. Although the message is clear – air pollution costs are staggering and should be reduced through policy action -- some of the terms used in the report can easily be misunderstood. We answer here frequently asked questions.

Dusty Solar Panels Cost 30% of Efficiency

We always knew dirty panels don’t work as well as clean ones – now we can put a number on it. Newly published research by Engineering researchers from Kathmandu found that a dusty panel gathers 29.8% less energy if they are not cleaned for 5 months in dry weather – we are surprised it is not more. The findings in Elsevier-published Solar Power magazine studied “soiling and its effect on performance of solar modules in regions with a high deposition of dust and low frequency and less intensity of rain.” But some areas with abundant rainfall may also suffer from high dust deposits in the dry season. Kathmandu, with its peculiar environment conditions, suffers high air pollution and minimum rainfall during the dry winter. The study measured the effect of dust on PV modules taking into account meteorological variables for Kathmandu. During the study period of 5 months, the efficiency of a dusty solar module left to untouched decreased by 29.76% compared to a similar module which was cleaned on daily basis.

Read the full article @ Off Grid

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Belching Smoke from Trucks, "Coal Rolling"

There is a new menace on America’s roads: diesel truck drivers who soup up their engines and remove their emissions controls to “roll coal,” or belch black smoke, at pedestrians, cyclists and unsuspecting Prius drivers. Sgt. Chris Worthington of the Montrose Police Department here is out to stop them. “You can hear those trucks across town, driving like idiots,” he said on a recent Friday evening patrol. He is among the first law enforcement officers in the country to be trained at “smoke school” to pick up the skills to police the coal rollers. He lost sight of one truck cruising in the opposite direction, trailing plumes of smoke. But another, a Ram 3500 fitted with two steel smokestacks, was parked in a Walmart parking lot. The owner, Pryce Hoey, insisted his truck was emissions compliant, but nevertheless agreed to demonstrate its smoke-generating prowess. “I just wanted something different,” Mr. Hoey said, revving the engine and releasing two black pillars of smoke into the evening air before Sgt. Worthington shut him down. “People who see it giggle. They think it’s funny.” Depending on whom you ask, rolling coal is a juvenile prank, a health hazard, a stand against rampant environmentalism, a brazen show of American freedom. Coal rollers’ frequent targets: walkers, joggers, cyclists, hybrid and Asian cars and even police officers. A popular bumper sticker reads “Prius Repellent.”

Read the full article @ NY Times

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Air Quality in Chennai (Forecasts, Updated Daily)

This is modeled air quality for India in forecast mode. The reports for all the 640 Indian districts everyday @ India Air Quality.Info

See what is happening at the regional scale, which is conducted as part of the all India air pollution forecasting program, hosted @ The animation below is from a WRF-CAMx simulation conducted @ 0.25x0.25 degree resolution (approximately, 25km x 25km).

Monitored air quality data from the city, converted to an air quality index is displayed below

Tiny Pollution Particles in the Brain

Suspected of toxicity, the particles of iron oxide could conceivably contribute to diseases like Alzheimer's - though evidence for this is lacking. The finding - described as "dreadfully shocking" by the researchers - raises a host of new questions about the health risks of air pollution. Many studies have focused on the impact of dirty air on the lungs and heart. Now this new research provides the first evidence that minute particles of what is called magnetite, which can be derived from pollution, can find their way into the brain. Earlier this year the World Health Organisation warned that air pollution was leading to as many as three million premature deaths every year.

The team analysed samples of brain tissue from 37 people - 29 who had lived and died in Mexico City, a notorious pollution hotspot, and who were aged from 3 to 85. The other 8 came from Manchester, were aged 62-92 and some had died with varying severities of neurodegenerative disease. The lead author of the research paper, Prof Barbara Maher, has previously identified magnetite particles in samples of air gathered beside a busy road in Lancaster and outside a power station. She suspected that similar particles may be found in the brain samples, and that is what happened. "It's dreadfully shocking. When you study the tissue you see the particles distributed between the cells and when you do a magnetic extraction there are millions of particles, millions in a single gram of brain tissue - that's a million opportunities to do damage."

Read the full article @ BBC

Air Quality in Kanpur (Forecasts, Updated Everyday)

This is modeled air quality for India in forecast mode. The reports for all the 640 Indian districts everyday @ India Air Quality.Info

See what is happening at the regional scale, which is conducted as part of the all India air pollution forecasting program, hosted @ The animation below is from a WRF-CAMx simulation conducted @ 0.25x0.25 degree resolution (approximately, 25km x 25km).

Air Quality in Patna (Forecasts, Updated Every Day)

This is modeled air quality for India in forecast mode. The reports for all the 640 Indian districts everyday @ India Air Quality.Info

See what is happening at the regional scale, which is conducted as part of the all India air pollution forecasting program, hosted @ The animation below is from a WRF-CAMx simulation conducted @ 0.25x0.25 degree resolution (approximately, 25km x 25km).

Sunday, September 04, 2016

London Policies Showing Effect on Air Pollution

New research by scientists at King's College London suggests that air pollution from London's roads is improving overall but more work may be needed to tackle some sources of traffic pollution, which continue to breach limits in many parts of the city. The study looked at trends in air pollution over a ten-year period spanning 2005 to 2014, using data collected from 65 roads. Researchers looked at changes in a number of pollutants including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter as fine (PM2.5) and coarser (PM10) particles, carbon dioxide (CO2) and black carbon.

The findings, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, showed significant variability across the city with some roads showing significant decreases but others did not improve. Examples include the notable improvement in nitrogen dioxide alongside Putney High Street and the deterioration along Upper Thames Street; the improvements in airborne particles on Marylebone Road in central London contrasting with the increase in coarse particles alongside some busy roads in outer London including Westhorne Avenue, part of the south circular in Eltham.

Between 2005 and 2009 nitrogen dioxide (NO2) alongside London's roads increased by an average of 11 per cent per year. This can be attributed in part to a three per cent rise in the number of diesel buses and coaches between 2005 and 2009 and to the failure of tighter Euro class emissions standards. This concurs with the growing body of evidence suggesting that real-world emissions from diesel vehicles did not align with their performance in factory tests.

After 2010, most roads showed some improvement in NO2 with an average decrease of five per cent per year. Fitting new exhaust clean-up technology to older buses also helped to curb nitrogen dioxide along some of London's roads. Putney High Street, for example, saw a particular improvement with a significant reduction in NO2 levels after 2010, thanks largely to the retrofitting of older buses technology to cut emissions. Nevertheless, around three-quarters of air quality monitoring sites still recorded levels exceeding the NO2 EU Limit Value in 2015.

Read the full article @ Phys.Org