Scientists attributed the high average of May 16 largely to high readings of May 15 when strong westerly winds brought dust from Rajasthan to the Capital, shrouding the city in a sepia-toned haze. Photo: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy_Flickr

‘Sepia-toned haze’: Delhi air quality index drops to worst since February 18

Delhi pollution levels on May 16, touched 336µg/m3 with low wind speed of 8-10 kmph as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. It is the worst that Delhi’s pollution levels have been since February 18, when the AQI reading was 371.

Scientists attributed the high average of May 16 largely to high readings of May 15 when strong westerly winds brought dust from Rajasthan to the Capital, shrouding the city in a sepia-toned haze. Delhi’s Particulate Matter 10 concentration was off the charts at 941 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) at 10 am, on May 15 with, before it dipped to around 300µg/m3 at 7 pm. 

Central Pollution Control Board data shows at midnight PM10 levels rose again 614µg/m3, before a gradual dip to 166µg/m3 micrograms at 1 pm on Wednesday. PM 10 – consisting of coarser dust particles currently plaguing the Capital — was the lead pollutant at all the weather stations, the HT reported.

Air pollution complaints rose 237% in a decade in Mumbai: Study 

Air pollution complaints rose four and a half times in just a decade in Mumbai according to a new research by NGO Praja, reported TOI. The report, titled ‘Status of Civic Issues in Mumbai, 2023’, said air pollution complaints increased 237% between 2013 and 2022. Thirty percent of the increase took place between 2015 and 2022. Between 2018 and 2022, the BMC’s complaint registers recorded 1,491 pollution related complaints, of which 1,075 were related to air pollution of Mumbai. The study adds that in 2021, total 424 pollution complaints were lodged, of which 343 were on air pollution, making it the highest in five years. In 2022, the CCRS system recorded 292 pollution complaints, of which 219 was about air pollution, reported the Indian Express.

The study pointed out that while the Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP) released by BMC last year targeted interventions to improve the city’s air quality, the measures are not being implemented effectively. Experts praised MCAP as a good document brought out by the BMC, that provided a roadmap to move towards ensuring sustainable service deliveries and in turn improve the city’s climate conditions. But researchers said the BMC should have in the last one year considered to implement the many interventions that were suggested through it.

Air pollution increases risk of dementia, include brain health in net zero strategies: New report

Not just lungs, a new study has revealed that exposure to high levels of air pollution particularly in early life increases the risk of dementia syndrome and related disorders. The study found that the causal loop between poverty, living near an industrial air pollution source, and social inequalities across the life course impact cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders in older, urban populations.

The Guardian reported that policy and practice strategies have been proposed to address air pollution’s impact on public health more generally, their benefits for brain health, including dementia, remain undeveloped.  The new report calls for an audit of existing policies to fast-track actions that reduce our exposure to air pollution through our whole lives, including low-pollution school zones and the development of dementia-friendly communities. The report also calls for health, and specifically brain health, to be part of net zero strategies.

BP unit to pay record $40 million to settle US air pollution case 

The big oil company BP will pay a record-setting $40 million penalty for violating US emission laws at its Indiana-based oil refinery by failing to curb emissions of cancer-causing benzene and other harmful pollutants, Reuters reported. 

The oil giant will be required to make significant investments to curb benzene pollution at its 134 year old Whiting, Indiana refinery, which has a history of violating federal regulations.

The settlement between BP, the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency will also require the company to invest approximately $197 million in new technology and other capital improvements to reduce air pollution.

Those improvements are expected to reduce benzene by an estimated seven tons per year, other hazardous air pollutants (HAP) by 28 tons per year, and volatile organic compound emissions (VOC) by 372 tons per year, the report added. 

$77 billion a year: Cost of health impacts of air pollution caused by US oil and gas production?

A new study in the US has put a price tag on the human cost of air pollution caused by oil and natural gas production: roughly $77 billion nationwide every year, while also contributing to thousands of early deaths and health flare-ups, reported Axios.

The study published in the journal Environmental Research: Health.found that pollutants nitrogen oxide, fine particulate matter and ozone from U.S. oil and gas production contributed to 7,500 excess deaths, 410,000 asthma attacks, and 2,200 new cases of childhood asthma across the U.S. in 2016, per  published 

Nitrogen oxide was the largest contributor to the overall health impacts, followed by ozone and then fine particulate matter, according to researchers at Boston University School of Public Health, the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment, PSE Healthy Energy and the Environmental Defense Fund.

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