UK releases Clean Air Strategy, aims to save £5.3 billion/year in public health costs by 2030

The UK government has released a new Clean Air Strategy to tackle the country’s existing air pollution problem. The strategy will address every source of pollutants – including ammonia emissions from agriculture and particulate matter from wood-burning stoves. It will also commit the government to phasing out all fossil fuel cars and vans by 2040.

The strategy is part of the country’s 25-year environment plan and aims to save at least £5.3 billion/year in public health costs by 2030. Local authorities will be conferred with enhanced powers under the plan to deal with heavy pollution, and the strategy will employ a nationalised data analytics portal on air quality to drive citizen engagement on air quality measures.

India’s top court on VW case: Bring other carmakers under the scanner as well

Widen the judicial scanner from the case of Volkswagen ‘cheat device’ (placed in diesel cars to flout emission norms), to other major car manufacturers. That’s the recommendation of the Supreme Court of India to the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The top court, however, stopped the green panel from taking any punitive action against the directors of the company as it has complied with NGT’s orders and deposited Rs 100 crores with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Volkswagen had moved the top court challenging the NGT order. But on January 17, the green court had warned Volkswagen that if it fails to deposit the fine within 24 hours, its directors would be sent to jail.

Excess of brain-damaging heavy metals in Delhi, Gurgaon air: Report

While the levels of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) in Delhi’s air remain between twice to ten times the legal limits, new research by NGO Lung Care Foundation, based on seven air-quality tests taken in New Delhi and Gurgaon, detected  “alarming levels” of brain-damaging heavy metals – manganese, lead and nickel – in the air. The levels of manganese exceed the US EPA Reference Concentration for exposure to manganese (0.05 microgram/m3) and the World Health Organisation annual health-based guidelines value of 0.15 microgram/m3. “Levels of lead in six of the seven tests exceed the US EPA 3-month average for exposure to lead (0.15 micrograms/m3) and in two tests exceeds the Indian NAAQS Annual and the WHO annual health-based guidelines value of 0.05 microgram/m3,” it said.

Nickel levels in all the tests exceed the WHO annual health-based guidelines value of 0.0025 microgram/m3, which is based on the risk of cancer associated with long-term exposure to nickel.

There are no standards in India for manganese in ambient air, the report said.

Air pollution causes loss of sleep: US study
Latest American research says polluted ambient air causes loss of sleep. The American Thoracic Society study links obstructive sleep apnea with rise in fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a traffic-related pollutant.

“Prior studies have shown that air pollution impacts lung and heart health, but only a few studies have looked at how air pollution might affect sleep,” said Martha E Billings, lead author of the study and associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington. “It seemed likely that air pollution was detrimental to sleep, given that it causes upper airway irritation, swelling and congestion, and may also affect the parts of the brain and central nervous system that control breathing patterns and sleep,” Billings said.

Air pollution decreasing levels of happiness in China

Polluted air is decreasing happiness levels in China, despite 8% economic growth, that’s the conclusion of data analysing of millions of social media posts in 144 Chinese cities. the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research published in Nature Human Behaviour says on polluted days, people are more likely to engage in impulsive and risky behaviour. Earlier, the study has shown that air pollution is damaging to health, cognitive performance, labour productivity, and educational outcomes

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