In with the new: Revised emergency measures have been introduced for times when air quality worsens in Delhi. Photo: the Hindu

Centre’s air quality commission revises Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQP) recommended revisions to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) — the emergency measures when air quality worsens in Delhi. The revised GRAP recommended a ban on coal and firewood, including in tandoors in hotels, restaurants, open eateries, and on diesel generator sets, except for emergent and essential services under Stage I. Around 950,000 diesel vehicles will be off road under new norms if pollution touched 450.

The commission recommended action based on the air quality index (AQI) and not the existing system of response that kicks in based on particulate matter concentrations. The new GRAP follows four different stages of adverse air quality in Delhi: Stage I – ‘Poor’ (AQI 201-300); Stage II – ‘Very Poor’ (AQI 301-400); Stage III – ‘Severe’ (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV – ‘Severe+’ (AQI >450).

Earlier, under the ‘severe plus’ situation, agencies waited for PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentrations to stay above 300 and 500 micrograms per cubic metre for 48 hours or more before implementing the measures mandated under GRAP.

Govt rejects EPIC report that links air pollution and life expectancy

The government rejected the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) annual update report released by The Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago (EPIC), last month that said air pollution is the greatest threat to human health in India. The report also stated the average Indian resident is set to lose five years of life expectancy if the new WHO guideline is not met.  

Union Minister of State for Environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey told Parliament that the government is aware of such studies. However, there is no linear relationship between air pollution and life expectancy as assumed in the AQLI by EPIC.

Residents of Delhi, the most polluted megacity in the world with average annual PM2.5 levels exceeding 107 micrograms per cubic metre or more than 21 times the WHO guideline, stand to lose 10 years of life expectancy if current air pollution level persists, the report had stated. 

IIT-K to help India set up sensors to measure air quality in villages

The Centre launched a pilot project to eventually set up a network of air quality sensors in rural India. The Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K),  will develop the $2.5 million project (₹19 crore) to install nearly 1,400 sensors in rural blocks of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The three-year pilot project, if successful, will be implemented on a national level, setting up a network of air quality sensors in rural India.

21% higher death risk on days when heat ways meet air pollution: Study

According to a new American study, extreme heat and air pollution combined lead to more deaths compared to deaths because of air pollution during moderate heat. Researchers at the University of Southern California analysed more than 1.5 million deaths in California between 2014 and 2019, and found that the risk of death increased by 21% on days when there was both extreme heat and high air pollution.

The researchers found that the risk of death increased by about 6% on days with extreme high temperatures and by about 5% on days with high concentrations of fine particulate matter, PM2.5.

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