Exposure to outdoor air pollution is associated with short term increase in daily mortality, high rate of hospital admission, and exacerbation of chronic respiratory conditions in many parts of the country.
A recent study by the Health Effect Institute (HEI), USA estimated that in the national capital of India, 3,000 deaths occur every year due to aliments such as asthma, respiratory diseases, heart attacks and cancer triggered by high level of air pollution. The HEI study also established that with every 10µg/cu m increase of particulate matter level over 300 µg/cu m there is 0.15 per cent to 1.17 per cent increase in death rate.
Steps that should be urgently taken up to prevent and control air pollution are:
■ Use of clean transportation fuel (CNG, LPG, Bio-Diesel, Bio-Fuel etc.) especially in the 43 critically polluted areas of the country.
■ Adoption of improved inspection and maintenance system (I/M) for in-use vehicles to improve the urban air quality.
■ Checking of fuel adulteration.
■Finalisation of Bharat Stage V and VI norms for fuel quality and vehicular exhaust emission standards.
■ Adoption of an approach based on carrying/assimilative capacity for environmental clearance of projects located in critically polluted areas.
■ Implementation of an effective post project monitoring system.
■ Promotion of pollution prevention and control technology for small scale air polluting industries.
■ Promotion of energy efficiency measures in thermal power plants, iron and steel plants, non-ferrous metallurgical industry.
■ Assessment of air toxics and their control in critically polluted areas.
■ Providing a major thrust to the fly ash utilisation programme.
■ Adoption of FGD/DeNOx system in coal based power stations located in critically polluted areas.
■ Control of toxic emission from stand alone coke oven batteries.
■ Effective char management from sponge iron plants.