IIT Jodhpur study sheds fresh light on air pollution hazards in north India

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IIT Jodhpur study sheds fresh light on air pollution hazards in north India

New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) As air pollution remains a crucial global challenge, with severe health implications for millions of people globally, a new study by a researcher from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur sheds light on the sources and composition of particulate matter (PM) in northern India that are harmful to human health. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, highlighted the significance of addressing local inefficient combustion processes such as 'biomass' and 'fossil fuel burning', including traffic exhaust in effectively reducing PM-related health exposure and their associated impacts in northern India.

"Addressing India's air pollution crisis requires collaboration among local communities and stakeholders as well as societal changes especially in densely populated urban areas like Delhi," Dr Deepika Bhattu, Associate Professor and lead author of the article, said.

The study was performed at five Indo-Gangetic Plain sites, both within and outside Delhi, and it was discovered that although uniformly high PM concentrations are present across the region, the chemical composition changes considerably as the local emission sources and formation processes dominate the PM pollution.

Within Delhi, ammonium chloride, and organic aerosols originating directly from traffic exhaust, residential heating, and the oxidation products of fossil fuels emissions produced in the atmosphere dominate PM pollution, as per as the study.

However, outside Delhi, ammonium sulphate and ammonium nitrate, as well as secondary organic aerosols from biomass burning vapours, were the dominant contributors.

Regardless of location, the study highlighted that organic aerosols from incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels, including traffic emissions, were the key contributors to the PM oxidative potential, which causes PM-associated health effects in this region.

Dr Bhattu said that concerted sustainable efforts are needed to promote "cleaner energy sources, improve combustion efficiency and reduce emissions" from transportation mainly from outdated, overloaded and inefficient vehicles fleets and remove unauthorised "jugaad" vehicles.

--IANS

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