Air Quality in India Got Worse Since the Installation of Outdoor Air Purifiers: Here’s Why


With Winter coming, air air pollution in India goes to as soon as once more hit disaster ranges quickly. At the particular person stage we will put on masks and use air purifiers in our properties, however extra broadly, cities and municipalities have additionally been putting in out of doors air purifiers over a number of years now — however do these truly work? Have smog towers and out of doors air purifiers made an affect on the air high quality in India? Despite the out of doors air purifiers and smog towers, the PM2.5 focus in India air is presently 5.2 occasions above the WHO annual air high quality guideline. The air high quality in India is solely not getting higher even in any case the cash and efforts spent to curb the air air pollution drawback in the nation. We talked to a quantity of consultants to try to perceive why that is, and whether or not there are any higher options doable.

Cities like Mumbai have been deploying Wind Augmentation Purifying Unit (WAYU) since 2015, in an effort to chop down the air air pollution drawback in India. Major Indian cities like Delhi and Bengaluru have additionally resorted to putting in out of doors purifiers and smog towers alongside the metropolis roads in an effort to curb air pollution issues. Delhi obtained a brand new smog tower in Connaught Place in August this yr.

Yet, India stood third in a listing of prime ten international locations that had the worst air high quality in 2020, coming solely behind Bangladesh and Pakistan. According to research by the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) — a Delhi-based coverage analysis institute — Delhi’s air high quality in winter 2020 was worse than winter 2019 regardless of the lockdown. The research additionally discovered that Delhi residents had been uncovered to air that doesn’t meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (60 µg/m3) for greater than half of 2020 regardless of low financial exercise ranges for near eight months (March to November) because of the pandemic-induced lockdown.

According to Tanushree Ganguly, an air high quality researcher from CEEW, the air air pollution that India is dealing with is an city infrastructure drawback. “If there is an unpaved road, it is bound to have more dust,” Ganguly mentioned. “Vehicular pollution also results in air pollution. In winters, a significant amount of pollution also comes from biomass that people burn for their heating requirements.”

Are out of doors air purifiers an answer to air air pollution drawback?

WAYU units, collectively developed by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) have been round since 2015. The Central Pollution Control Board had put in WAYU items throughout some main areas in Delhi in 2018.

“Its creators claim it can reduce pollution at busy traffic junctions by 40-60 percent,” Dr. Prashant Gargava, member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board, had said at the time of installation.

“The air pollution levels change depending on the time it was measured,” Ganguly mentioned. “So when was it measured, in what area is the air quality being improved — is it just within ten metres of the air purifiers or within 500 metres of the air purifier — all these factors need to be considered to show that it is really making any impact. I have not come across any publicly available research or database which clearly says that WAYU devices have actually impacted air quality in the 500 metre radius.”

“There is a constant dynamism in the system and you are not just trying to address sources of pollution which are present at the moment; you are also trying to address the sources which are outside the city,” she added. “I’m not sure how these filters are able to cater to these varying dynamics outdoors. I think the idea is to have credible evidence on their impact before we go ahead and have them across the city.”

Vivel Chattopadhyay, Senior Programme Manager of the Clean Air Programme at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a analysis and advocacy organisation based mostly in Delhi mentioned that aside from the set up prices, out of doors air purifiers include a number of added prices.

This contains the value of upkeep, value of the filters which should be modified periodically, parts like sensors which require periodic calibration, operational prices, manpower, the value of the land which is being occupied by the air pollution and extra. These aren’t simple to unravel issues, however the corporations making these options are additionally conscious of them and dealing on options.

“We have nano-filters in our outdoor air purifiers which can be reused up to four times, thus saving a lot of maintenance costs, “ said Rajeev Krishna, founder of ATechTron, a product development company based in Bengaluru. ATechTron have installed their outdoor air purifiers in locations including Marathahalli junction, Whitefield, and PR Nagar in Bengaluru.

How can we really solve the air pollution problem?

CEEW had suggested in their research that Delhi needs a dedicated air quality forecasting cell to facilitate the rollout of preventive measures. “If we have the forecast for the next 72 hours, we can clearly see the contribution ratio to the pollution — for example, urban dust at night is the highest,” mentioned Ganguly. “Perhaps, this is due to the trucks at night. The government can take measures to cut out the activities which they really can through forecasting — it’s very difficult to execute these activities due to the significant economic repercussions.”

“Wherever in the world where pollution reduction has happened in a big manner, the solution has been cleaner fuel and technology working to controlling pollution from the sources, better assessment and study of where the pollution is coming from,” mentioned Chattopadhyay.

Chattopadhyay added that the quantity of cash that’s being spent on out of doors air purifiers can be utilized to chop down the emission from the sources. “The same amount of money can be spent to buy electric buses, you can have waste collection and segregation centres. That will eliminate the source of the problems. That will give us better long term gains. Outdoor air purifiers are really futile efforts. Government is letting the pollution be released from the source. The emissions are taking place from industry, from vehicles, and multiple sources. Cutting down from the source will have a wider implication in terms of exposure too,” added Chattopadhyay.

Ganguly additionally prompt that the transit infrastructure, together with waste assortment, waste transport, and waste administration infrastructure must be improved. “In winters, a significant amount of pollution also comes from biomass that people burn for their heating requirements,” she famous. “The Delhi shelters are perhaps not able to cater to all the homeless people in Delhi. So I think it is also important how the government is planning on upgrading these existing shelters, so that at least their utilisation is better. At night, if these shelters can accommodate the homeless population, then their reliance on garbage or dry leaves for their heating requirements could be reduced.”

Chattopadhyay additionally added that tighter emission management norms have to be in place. “Tighter emission control norms for power plants will lead to a reduction (in air pollution). The government has to put in the money into the right sources — cutting emissions from the sources and maintaining regulations. Smog towers are not a right policy decision. Such methods give a signal to the polluters that it is okay to pollute,” he mentioned.

A bandage answer

Krishna, of ATechTron, disagreed with the researchers’ strategies that forecasting and air high quality monitoring is a greater answer. He prompt that strategically inserting out of doors air purifiers inside a distance of two-three kilometres to one another all through the metropolis will certainly result in a discount in air air pollution.

Angad Daryani, founder of Praan, a deep tech startup which makes out of doors air purifiers additionally mentioned that what the NCR authorities is doing with smog-free towers is non-scientific. When requested if out of doors air purifiers can actually contribute to fixing the air pollution drawback in India, he mentioned that the out of doors air purifiers from Praan function a bandage answer to the air pollution drawback whereas we transition to cleaner vitality.

I requested Ganguly if this was the case, however she remained unconvinced. “Let’s not call it a solution before we know for sure it is one,” she mentioned. “Once the entire range of measures has been taken and if we still don’t see any significant impact, then perhaps this could be looked at as a solution. But this cannot precede all the other solutions. As a researcher, that is what I have an issue with.”