Air pollution in India
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Traffic congestion on inadequate road infrastructure is a daily reality of India's urban centers. Slow speeds and idling vehicles produce, per trip, 4 to 8 times more pollutants and consume more carbon footprint fuels, than free flowing traffic. This 2008 image shows traffic congestion in Delhi. Air pollution in India is a serious issue with the major sources being fuelwood and biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission and traffic congestion. India has a low per capita emissions of greenhouse gases but the country as a whole is the third largest after China and the United States. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed in 1981 to regulate air pollution and there have been some measurable improvements. However, the 2012 Environmental Performance Index ranked India as having the poorest relative air quality out of 132 countries. Contents * 1 Fuel wood and biomass burning * 2 Emissions standards * 3 Fuel adulteration * 4 Traffic congestion * 5 Greenhouse gas emissions * 6 Recent trends in air quality * 7 Specific issues * 8 References
| Fuel wood and biomass burning
Cooking fuel in rural India is prepared from a wet mix of dried grass, fuelwood pieces, hay, leaves and mostly cow/livestock dung. This mix is patted down into disc-shaped cakes, dried, and then used as fuel in stoves. When it burns, it produces smoke and numerous indoor air pollutants at concentrations 5 times higher than coal.
A rural stove using biomass cakes, fuelwood and trash as cooking fuel. Surveys suggest over 100 million households in India use such stoves (chullahs) every day, 2-3 times a day. Clean burning fuels and electricity are unavailable in rural parts and small towns of India because of poor rural highways and limited energy generation infrastructure. Fuelwood and biomass burning is the primary reason for near-permanent haze and smoke observed above rural and urban India, and in satellite pictures of the country. Fuelwood and biomass cakes are used for cooking and general heating needs. These are burnt in cook stoves known as chullah or chulha in some parts of India. These cook stoves are present in over 100 million Indian households, and are used two to three times a day, daily. As of 2009, majority of Indians still use traditional fuels such as dried cow dung, agricultural wastes, and firewood as cooking fuel. This form of fuel is inefficient source of energy, its burning releases high levels of smoke, PM10 particulate matter, NOX, SOX, PAHs, polyaromatics, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and other air pollutants. Some reports, including one by the World Health Organization, claim 300,000 to 400,000 people die of indoor air pollution and carbon monoxide poisoning in India because of biomass burning and use of chullahs. Burning of biomass and firewood will not stop, unless electricity or clean burning fuel and combustion technologies become reliably available and widely adopted in rural and urban India. India is the world's largest consumer of fuelwood, agricultural waste and biomass for energy purposes. From the most recent available nationwide study, India used 148.7 million tonnes coal replacement worth of fuelwood and biomass annually for domestic energy use. India's national average annual per capita consumption of fuel wood, agri wate and biomass cakes was 206 kilogram coal equivalent. In 2010 terms, with India's population increased to about 1.2 billion, the country burns over 200 million tonnes of coal replacement worth of fuel wood and biomass every year to meet its energy need for cooking and other domestic use. The study found that the households consumed around 95 million tonnes of fuelwood, one-third of which was logs and the rest was twigs. Twigs were mostly consumed in the villages, and logs were more popular in cities of India. The overall...
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