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Imperfect approach: NCAP’s overlooking of 139 cities with poor AQI may render it even more ineffective | Image credit: Raconteur(dot)net

Study: National Clean Air Programme missed 139 polluted cities as it used old data

The latest report by Greenpeace India says there are 139 cities where air pollution levels exceed national standards, which  were not included in India’s recently released National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). The report titled Airpocalypse III states that even if we assume that air pollution across India can be reduced by 30% by 2024, 153 cities will be left with pollution levels exceeding the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

The study analyses air pollution data of 313 cities and towns for the year 2017. Of these, 241 (77%) had PM10 levels beyond the NAAQS. “Thus, all these 241 cities belong on the list of ‘non-attainment’ cities that are required to take action under the NCAP. This is a sharp increase of 139 cities, more than twice as many as the 102 cities included on the list. The omission is due to the fact that the list of non-attainment cities in the NCAP was drawn together using data from the years 2011-2015.”

Bangkok residents coughing blood due to smog

Bangkok joined ranks with Delhi and became one of the 10 most polluted cities in the world. Covered in toxic smog, Thailand was forced to shut nearly 450 schools in Bangkok after air pollution in the city crossed the “unhealthy” level of 171. Pollution has been so bad that people have shared images on social media of citizens  “sneezing blood”.

Much like New Delhi, the Bangkok smog is attributed to traffic emissions, construction work, burning of crop stubble, and pollution from factories getting trapped in the city.

Kakuko Nagatani-Yoshida, UN Environment Regional Coordinator for Chemicals, Waste, and Air Quality, said: “It is literally vital that the government takes decisive action to enforce pollution regulations. They are on the right track with efforts announced yesterday [on Wednesday], such as strict emissions enforcement, and they are looking at more urgent measures,” she said. “But while solutions like cloud seeding may provide temporary relief for larger particulates, it does not help reduce PM2.5.”

Burning tyres dumped as waste by Britain are choking India, says journalist

Influential writer and journalist George Monibot has highlighted Britain’s dirty secret of waste dumping and burning tyres, which is choking India. He pointed out that every month, “thousands of tonnes of used tyres leave our ports on a passage to India. There they are baked in pyrolysis plants, to make a dirty industrial fuel.

While some of these plants meet Indian regulations, hundreds – perhaps thousands – are pouring toxins into the air, as officials look the other way. When tyre pyrolysis is done badly, it can produce a hideous mix: heavy metals, benzene, dioxins, furans and other persistent organic chemicals, some of which are highly carcinogenic.”

The writer says there is no data on the tyre pyrolysis plant. Nor do we know whether British tyres are being burned in plants that are illegal. “It seems prepared to break its own rules on behalf of the companies exporting our waste. And this is before Brexit.”

Class divide: Study says Europe’s poorest worst hit by air pollution

According to latest research, the underprivileged and the unemployed in Europe’s poorest regions are hardest hit by the air pollution crisis. Nearly half of London’s poorest neighbourhoods exceeded EU nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits in 2017 compared with 2% of its wealthiest areas.

Data-mining analysis from the European Environment Agency (EEA) released similar findings in France, Germany, Malta, the Netherlands, Wales and Wallonia. Data revealed that across Europe, over half a million people die prematurely per year from exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (03) and NO2, “but the extent to which the numbers are skewed by class has been under-researched.”

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