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3 institutes study Pb, Hry air quality, find small towns bad - Times of India
Hisar: The seasonal burning of crop residue gives Haryana and Punjab country’s foulest air after the wheat and paddy harvests, so scientists have studied its pattern and relationship to formulate season-specific control measures. They find that dirty air is now a problem of even medium and small town.
Experts from the environmental science and engineering department of Hisar’s Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology (GJUST), Chandigarh’s Panjab University (PU), and the department of community medicine and School of Public Health at Chandigarh’s Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) have together examined the continuous air quality monitoring data to understand the seasonal variation and its link with weather and straw burning.
A research journal of Germany’s Springer Science and Business Media published this study authored by Sahil Mor, Tanbir Singh, Narshi Ram Bishnoi, Santosh Bhukal and Ravindra Khaiwal. The seasonal variation in ambient air quality was judged on 14 parameters such as particulate matter (PM), trace gases, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), along with meteorological parameters. The data came from 23 monitoring stations of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) in 21 districts of the Haryana.
The figures belonged to 2019, where the districts were divided into three zones based on ecology and cropping pattern. In all districts of Haryana, the annual mean particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations) in the air was much higher than the national standards. There was a considerable seasonal variation in the concentration of all pollutants in the air over Haryana. The pollution peaks post-monsoon (October-December), followed by winter. PM10 and PM2.5 increase by 65 to 112% and 131 to 147%, respectively after monsoon, while rains are the clean season that washes out atmospheric pollutants.
The satellite-tracked field fires show a significant influence of straw burning after monsoon, followed by the burning of solid biomass (cow-dung cake, wood etc.) in Haryana’s winter. The particulate matter, considered a proxy of air pollution, usually, has an annual mean PM10 concentration in Zones-1, 2, and 3 as 156±86, 174±93, and 143±74 μgm−3, whereas for PM2.5, it is 71±44, 85±54, and 78±47 μg m−3.
Lead author Narsi Ram Bishnoi of Hisar’s GJUST said the study of seasonal variation in Haryana’s ambient air quality will help to formulate season-specific control measures. He said: “Air pollution is seen as a problem of big cities usually, but it’s increasing even over the medium and small cities.”
PGI professor Ravindra Khaiwal said: “Farmers need to adopt sustainable practices to contain harmful emissions. The straw and cow-dung cakes they burn for cooking and heating in their rural kitchens is a major contributor to air pollution along with industrial and vehicular emissions. National Clean Air Programme, subsidised clean-cooking fuels, and subsidy for crop-residue management haven’t helped for want of public participation and awareness.
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