International research study to shed light on sources of air-polluting dust in India

Jan 15, 2013

A quantitative analysis of dust sources in Delhi by scientists from India, the UK and the USA will provide important new insight into how individual sources of air-borne matter contribute to the overall concentrations measured in the atmosphere.

Air pollution continues to be one of the key global environmental challenges and is widespread in India, with Delhi, most notably, experiencing major problems. The largest public health impact is due to exposure to particulate matter – very fine dust floating in the air. Although the sources of this dust might appear obvious, for example, car and industrial emissions, wind-blown soils, diesel generators etc, little is known in India about how much each source contributes to the concentrations measured in the atmosphere.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi), the University of Birmingham in the UK and the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, USA, are collaborating to provide key scientific evidence in this area, which will assist in the development of targeted policy instruments to control air pollution. Air samples will be collected in Delhi and sent to the University of Birmingham for chemical analysis. The Desert Research Institute will then analyse the collected data to estimate the contributions of different air pollution sources. 

Professor Roy M. Harrison, Head of the Group at the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said: "Exposure to particulate matter has for human health but cost-effective abatement measures depend upon a quantitative knowledge of the contributions of different sources in the atmosphere. There is currently insufficient information specific to India so this collaborative research project will provide new, and significant, analysis." 

Dr Mukesh Khare, Professor of Environmental Engineering at IIT Delhi, added: "A source apportionment study of fine particulates in Indian mega cities, like Delhi, has been conducted recently, coordinated by the Central Pollution Control Board, New Delhi. The study provided important insight into the current status of the sources of fine particulates. Yet major gaps in knowledge still exist, mainly with reference to chemical composition of the apportioned fine particulates. In the absence of such data, it becomes difficult to formulate any kind of health assessment studies, and to provide optimal protection to the city dwellers. The current UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) award will certainly lead to clear outcomes on chemical characterisation of the apportioned fine particles at the selected study site of Delhi city and much improved source apportionment. This will also provide us with systematic methodologies to conduct such studies at urban and regional scales".

Results from the analysis are expected in late 2013.

Explore further: CO2 emissions set to reach new 40 billion ton record high in 2014

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Delhi air quality regulations improve respiratory health

Apr 11, 2011

Recent radical changes in air quality regulations in Delhi, India, have had a substantial positive effect on the health of city residents, according to new research co-authored by Andrew Foster, professor ...

Smog in Indian capital blamed on vehicle increase

Nov 07, 2012

A choking smog that has enveloped New Delhi for more than a week has been partially caused by a rapid increase in vehicles on the streets of India's capital, environmentalists said Wednesday.

WHO to help India probe 'superbug': report

Apr 14, 2011

The World Health Organisation will help India study whether a multi-drug resistant "superbug" allegedly found in New Delhi's water poses a health risk, a report Thursday said.

India's air the worst, says annual study

Feb 02, 2012

India has the worst air quality in the world, poorer even than its neighbour China, according to an annual survey based at Yale and Columbia universities in the United States.

Pregnant mothers at risk from air pollution

Oct 07, 2011

A Californian-based study has looked in detail at air quality and the impact of traffic-related air pollution on premature birth. Published in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health, results from this s ...

Recommended for you

World greenhouse emissions threaten warming goal

3 hours ago

Emissions of greenhouse gases are rising so fast that within one generation the world will have used up its margin of safety for limiting global warming to 2°C (3.6°F), an international team of scientists ...

Tens of thousands join London climate march

4 hours ago

Tens of thousands of people in London joined a global day of protest Sunday to demand action on climate change, among them British actress Emma Thompson who said the challenge to save the planet was like ...

UN summit to test commitment to climate fund

4 hours ago

A global fund created to spearhead climate change financing faces a key test at a UN summit this week when it looks to the leaders of the industrialised world to stump up billions of dollars to fill its underflowing ...

User comments : 0