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News Article | April 7, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

A nine-year-old girl has filed a lawsuit against the Indian government for failing to take action on climate change, warning that young people will pay the price for the country’s inaction. In the petition filed with the National Green Tribunal, a special court for environment-related cases, Ridhima Pandey said the government had failed to implement its environment laws. “As a young person [Ridhima] is part of a class that amongst all Indians is most vulnerable to changes in climate, yet are not part of the decision making process,” the 52-page petition reads. It calls on the tribunal to direct the government “to take effective, science-based action to reduce and minimise the adverse impacts of climate change”. Speaking to the Independent in the UK, Ridhima said: “My government has failed to take steps to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing extreme climate conditions. This will impact both me and future generations. “My country has huge potential to reduce the use of fossil fuels, and because of the government’s inaction I approached the National Green Tribunal.” India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Central Pollution Control Board have been asked to respond within two weeks. India has four of the 10 worst cities in the world in terms of air pollution. Together, India and China accounted for more than half the total number of global deaths attributable to air pollution in 2015, according to a recent study. Greenpeace released a report in January estimating that nearly 1.2 million Indians die each year owing to high concentrations of airborne pollutants such as dust, mould spores, arsenic, lead, nickel and the carcinogen chromium. At the time, India’s environment minister declared the report inconclusive, adding: “There is no conclusive data available in the country to establish direct correlation-ship of death exclusively with air pollution.” Despite several laws to protect India’s forests, clean up its rivers and improve air quality, critics are concerned that implementation is poor and economic growth often takes precedence over the environment. Flash floods and landslides in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, where Ridhima lives, killed hundreds of people and left tens of thousands homeless in 2013. The devastation affected Ridhima, the daughter of an environmental activist, according to Rahul Choudhary, a lawyer representing her. “For someone so young, she is very aware of the issue of climate change and she is very concerned about how it will impact her in future,” he said. “She wanted to do something that can have a meaningful effect, and we suggested she could file a petition against the government.” India is taking some action on air quality. As a signatory to the Paris agreement on climate change, it is committed to ensuring that at least 40% of its electricity is generated from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030. In her petition, Ridhima asks the court to order the government to assess industrial projects for climate-related issues, prepare a “carbon budget” to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and create a national climate recovery plan. “That a young girl is doing so much to draw the government’s attention is something. We hope the case puts some pressure on the government to act,” said Choudhary.

Mukherjee B.,Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute | Dutta A.,Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute | Roychoudhury S.,Central Pollution Control Board | Ray M.R.,Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute
Journal of Applied Toxicology | Year: 2013

This study examined whether indoor air pollution from biomass fuel burning induces DNA damage in airway cells. For this, sputum cells were collected from 56 premenopausal rural women who cooked with biomass (wood, dung, crop residues) and 49 age-matched controls who cooked with cleaner liquefied petroleum gas. The levels of particulate matters with diameters of less than 10 and 2.5μm (PM10 and PM2.5) in indoor air were measured using a real-time aerosol monitor. Benzene exposure was monitored by measuring trans,trans-muconic acid (t,t-MA) in urine by HPLC-UV. DNA damage was examined by alkaline comet assay in sputum cells. Generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and level of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in sputum cells were measured by flow cytometry and spectrophotometry, respectively. Compared with controls, biomass users had 4 times higher tail percentage DNA, 37% more comet tail length and 5 times more Olive tail moment (p<0.001) in inflammatory and epithelial cells in sputum, suggesting extensive DNA damage. In addition, women who cooked with biomass had 6 times higher levels of urinary t,t-MA and 2-fold higher levels of ROS generation concomitant with 28% depletion of SOD. Indoor air of biomass-using households had 2-4 times more PM10 and PM2.5 than that of controls. After controlling potential confounders, positive association was found between DNA damage parameters, particulate pollution, urinary t,t-MA and ROS. Thus, long-term exposure to biomass smoke induces DNA damage in airway cells and the effect was probably mediated, at least in part, by oxidative stress generated by inhaled particulate matter and benzene. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Dutta A.,Peking University | Dutta A.,Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute | Roychoudhury S.,Central Pollution Control Board | Chowdhury S.,Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute | Ray M.R.,Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute
International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health | Year: 2013

To perform sputum analysis for verification of pulmonary changes in premenopausal rural Indian women chronically exposed to biomass smoke during cooking.Three consecutive morning sputum samples were collected from 196 women (median age 34 years) cooking with biomass and 149 age-matched control women cooking with cleaner fuel liquefied petroleum gas. Smears made on slides were stained with Papanicolaou and Perl's Prussian blue. Airway oxidative stress was estimated as reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation (by flow cytometry) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) level (by spectrophotometry) in sputum cells. Airway inflammation was measured as sputum levels of interleukin (IL)-6, -8 and tumor necrosis factor- alpha (TNF-α). Particulate matter of diameter less than 10 (PM10) was measured using laser photometer while benzene exposure was monitored by measuring trans, trans-muconic acid (t,t-MA) in urine by HPLC-UV. Compared with control, sputum of biomass users contained more neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils, alveolar macrophages, and showed presence of ciliocytophthoria, Charcot-Leyden crystals, Curschmann's spiral. ROS generation was increased by 2-fold while SOD was depleted by 31% in biomass users. They also had higher sputum levels of IL-6, -8 and TNF-α. Levels of PM10 and t,t-MA were 2.9- and 5.8-times higher in biomass-using women. PM10 and t,t-MA levels were positively associated with cellular changes in the sputum, markers of airway inflammation, and oxidative stress. Cooking with biomass alters sputum cytology, and increases airway inflammation and oxidative stress that might result in further amplification of the tissue damaging cascade in women chronically exposed to biomass smoke. © 2012 Elsevier GmbH.

News Article | November 22, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

In late October, the streets of the temple town of Thanjavur were abuzz with Diwali festivities, the skies glittering with fireworks. One home, however, was cloaked in darkness. “We aren’t celebrating Diwali because we are in mourning this year,” said K Kumaran, just back from his 10-hour shift as a security guard at a private college. In the corner of the living room, his wife Vijaya fixes the wick on a flickering oil lamp that stood in front of a framed photograph of their 19-year-old son, Jawahar. “If he was here, my son would have approved of the dark house,” said Vijaya. “He thought firecrackers were polluting, and environmentally disastrous.” Jawahar, a young community activist in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, had killed himself less than a month earlier. He had left home after breakfast on 10 October, and did not return or call home all day. “At first, we didn’t think it was unusual,” said Kumaran, sighing. Jawahar had been a strenuous activist, often out on protests around the area. Earlier this year, he had gone on a hunger fast; he sat on the road outside a central tourist spot, demanding that city officials confiscate all plastic bags. Before that, he had climbed the Collector’s [government] office building, threatening to jump off unless Thanjavur enforced the plastic ban. On both occasions, it was the police that called Kumaran and Vijaya, asking them to take their boy home after he had been detained. In many other instances, the parents had found out about Jawahar’s public protests through the local Tamil newspapers. But after a day had passed this time and there had still been no word from their son, Kumaran filed a missing person’s complaint, on Vijaya’s insistence. That evening the police found him; he had drowned in the canal. No one suspected suicide until, on the day of the cremation, a cousin found a video in Jawahar’s phone. “It was a declaration of suicide,” said the cousin, K Elavaenil. In the self-recorded video, the religious Jawahar wears holy ash on his forehead. Speaking in Tamil he says, “I am sacrificing my life in the hope that it will trigger serious concern about plastic use in India. Since all of my peaceful means of protest failed, I’m forced to choose suicide. To save the lives of millions of people affected by toxic plastic, I don’t think it’s wrong to kill myself.” As a teenager, Jawahar had shown a keen interest in environmental issues, especially the indiscriminate use of plastic. He quit school in the 10th grade and watched the news obsessively. From 2014, every few weeks, he had filed petitions at the town municipality demanding an action plan to ban or recycle plastic, manage waste, or replant trees cut for laying highways. Soon, he began to stage dramatic protests. “He used to say that people are dull and lazy, and one must shock to attract attention to important issues,” said Elavaenil. Officials in the police station of Thanjavur remember Jawahar as a passionate boy. “He was a known face, always in the Collector’s office, fighting about this or that,” said Inspector R Rajendran, who once convinced the young man to climb down from the roof of the building. “His heart was in the right place, but what he didn’t understand is that making the town a zero-plastic zone cannot happen overnight.” Vijaya said: “Jawahar was fighting alone and growing angrier with the world. When all you can think of is how to protect the environment, just seeing a person use a plastic cover can perhaps push you over the edge.” Jawahar had taken on a gargantuan problem. India is a relatively new user of plastic, which has only really come into circulation since the economy was liberalised in the early nineties. Indians consume a relatively small amount of plastic per person — a fraction of the amount consumed in the US and Chinaestimated at 9.7kg in 2013, far below 109kg in the US and 45kg in China. But plastic use has been growing at 10% a year, and consumption is expected to double by 2020. There has been some action; in 2011 the Indian parliament banned the use and manufacture of plastic bags with a thickness of under 40 microns. But waste management is really a state responsibility, and although civic bodies in villages, municipalities and cities were supposed to implement this ban locally, few did. Delhi, for example, imposed a blanket ban on the manufacture, use and sale of plastic bags in 2013, but a 2015 report [pdf] by the NGO Toxic Links found that over 90% of traders still used them. In March this year, the central government notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, which would supersede the 2011 rues. It bans bags under 50 microns, but has a long list of exemptions, and allows companies and vendors to continue the manufacture and use of plastic after paying a fine. It’s hard to miss plastic in the Indian landscape. Irrigation pipes made from the worst grade of plastic snake through rural farmland. Homemakers spread a plastic sheet on the dining table, and line their cupboards. Street-food vendors will wrap a cut mango or piping hot samosa in plastic while the tea sellers use tiny, slim plastic cups that are crushed after a single use. Cling film, colourful food wrappers, packets and water bottles fly out of buses to line the peripheries of train tracks all over the country. Nearly every middle-class Indian home hoards plastic bags; dozens of them stuffed in another large plastic bag. Finally, they are all carelessly thrown away. It’s common to find cows and goats eating the plastic mixed in overflowing garbage at street corners and landfills. These are often burned, emitting noxious fumes. Drains are clogged with shreds of plastic, leading to flooded sewers that trigger malaria and dengue. Local grassroots groups have managed to bring about progress in some parts of India. In several neighbourhoods in Bengaluru, for example, capital of Karnataka, nearly 3,000 volunteers help enforce a homegrown, multidimensional and interactive model of managing plastic waste. The Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT) was started in 2009, with a handful of eco-organisations, middle-class consumers, and vendors meeting once a week to discuss solutions. The SWMRT now includes wastepickers’ associations, recyclers, residents’ welfare groups, shopkeepers, politicians and corporations. By 2015, 20 wards in Bengaluru had already stopped using all kinds of plastic. The movement demonstrated the power of enlightened officials and well-thought out citizen alternatives like bags borrowed from shopkeepers on a deposit, a return to steel containers for meat, glass for liquids, newspaper packing for groceries, neighbourhood “kabaadi” (recycler) rounds, and networked wastepickers and consumers. Civic officials, working with the SWMRT, have implemented a ban on single-use plastic bags through raids and awareness campaigns, while volunteers promote habits like composting that massively cut the quantity of garbage generated per household. The most significant move, however, has been to rope in the largely informal economy of wastepickers. India maintains a very high recycling rate – 60% compared to the world average of 22% – with little government support because of the economic value of the waste. “Anything that has value gets picked up from the waste and leaves the system,” says Kabir Arora, coordinator of the Alliance of Indian Wastepickers. Single-use plastic stays in landfills because they have no recycle value at all. But multi-use plastic like packaging material or thick bags are reincarnated – 25% was being recycled in India in 2013, according to the PlastIndia Foundation. And 70% of PET bottles in India are recycled, compared to only 3% in the US. “All this is possible due to the informal system of what we call ‘ragpickers’,” says Nalini Shekar, the co-founder of an association of 7,000 wastepickers, Hasiru Dala. “The desperately poor people who spend hours rummaging in the landfill, the unorganised labour that manually sorts dry waste, migrants and women who identify and separate types of plastic, [all] work in extremely unhygienic, unsafe conditions to keep plastic off our soil and water.” An estimated 600,000 people work in plastic recycling in India. In Delhi at least 25,000 people are directly employed in recycling, and they are supported by thousands of independent collectors and handlers. But it is all still informal, and adhoc and systemic problems remain. “The recycling sector still needs more organising, scientific research and government regulation to make it a sustainable player in plastic management,” says Shekar, another member of Bengaluru’s SWMRT. For example, until recently recyclers commonly burned PVC wires to recover the high-price copper and aluminium metals – releasing carcinogenic dioxins – until the Central Pollution Control Board enforced a ban. Progress is haphazard, episodic, and local, no matter how well intentioned. And meanwhile cloth-like polypropylene bags (only banned in Karnataka), branded packaging for chips, crisps and toffees, water bottles, sanitary napkins, diapers towels, nappies with 90% plastic microbeads, and paper cups lined with plastic, are all still flooding garbage rubbish dumps. Tamil Nadu, Jawahar’s home state, is the most heavily urbanised [pdf] in India, and hosts numerous heavy industries in energy, automobiles, transport and leather. The capital, Chennai, is one of India’s fastest growing mega-cities, and the rapidly growing number of cars in the state has now led to an anti-air pollution drive. The state, like the country, is changing rapidly. Jawahar campaigned to his utmost in this huge, rapidly changing landscape. In his own town, he went to every house on the street, confiscating their plastic. He harangued local vegetable vendors, and his own parents. His mother Vijaya showed me her kitchen – entirely steel and glass. She guiltily picked up a plastic bottle of oil. “It might be his growing impatience with this world that led him to give up his life,” she says. “Maybe things would have been different, if some people had joined him in his mission.” • In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here. Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow @GuardianGDP on Twitter.

News Article | December 12, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Air quality in the Indian holy city of Varanasi is “the most toxic in the country” according to research that reveals the extent of the pollution crisis across northern India. There has been a growing awareness of the dangers of the smog that envelopes Delhi in the winter months, but a report released on Monday by three environmental groups highlights the extent of the problem across the north Indian plains, where levels of harmful airborne particles are routinely higher than in the capital. According to 2015 data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Varanasi and Allahabad, both located in India’s largest and most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, did not record a single day of “good” air quality in the more than 220 days that measurements were taken. “Good” air indicates an Air Quality Index score below 50. Anything above 100 – “moderate” – is considered to be dangerous for children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions. The report’s lead author, Aishwarya Madineni, said the levels recorded in Varanasi appeared to regularly breach 150, when the air is classified as “unhealthy” and begins to affect the general population. The researchers found that levels of airborne pollution in Varanasi finer than 2.5 micro-metres – the most harmful variety because they can reach deep into the lungs and breach the blood-brain barrier – were routinely double the safe limit in October and November 2015. Levels of coarser particles finer than 10 micro-metres were triple the safe limit in 2016 and had increased by more than one-third since 2010, the research showed. A 2016 World Health Organisation study found that half of the world’s 20 most polluted cities were in India, starting with Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. Allahabad and Delhi were also listed as suffering from toxic levels of fine pollution in the WHO report but Varanasi was not measured. The spiritual capital, which draws hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims to the banks of the Ganges river each year, had just one monitoring station capable of measuring the finest pollution particles, and even that station had “huge gaps in the data”, Madineni said. The pollution’s cause in Varanasi is much the same as in Delhi: a mix of dust kicked up by traffic and construction sites, vehicular and industrial emissions, smoke from private diesel generators and open fires lit by poorer residents. Uttar Pradesh is also home to at least 18 coal-fired power stations, the emissions from which can travel hundreds of kilometres and diminish air quality across the region. Among six cities in Uttar Pradesh highlighted in the report, only two – Kanpur and Agra – had more than 12 “good” air quality days each year. Child specialists cited in the report said there had been an eight-fold rise in respiratory illnesses in Varanasi and the degrading air quality seen as the main cause. Rates of asthma and patients reporting breathlessness in the city had also increased by up to 25%, according to RN Vajpayee, a pulmonologist and chest physician cited in the study. Air quality in Delhi fell to its lowest levels in 17 years in the past three months, leading to emergency shutdowns of power stations, construction sites and schools. A 2015 study has shown that about half the capital’s 4.4 million schoolchildren have had their lung capacity permanently compromised because of the pollution.

Tamma Rao G.,CSIR - Central Electrochemical Research Institute | Gurunadha Rao V.V.S.,CSIR - Central Electrochemical Research Institute | Ranganathan K.,Central Pollution Control Board
Journal of Earth System Science | Year: 2013

One of the highly polluted areas in India located at Ranipet occupies around 200 tanneries and other small scale chemical industries. Partially treated industrial effluents combined with sewage and other wastes discharged on the surface cause severe groundwater pollution in the industrial belt. This poses a problem of supply of safe drinking water in the rural parts of the country. A study was carried out to assess the groundwater pollution and identify major variables affecting the groundwater quality in Ranipet industrial area. Twenty five wells were monitored during pre- and post-monsoon in 2008 and analyzed for the major physico-chemical variables. The water quality variables such as total dissolved solids (TDS), Iron (Fe2+), Hexavalent Chromium (Cr6+), at most of the sampling locations exceeded the ISI and WHO guideline levels for drinking water. Multivariate statistical techniques such as factor analysis were applied to identify the major factors (variables) corresponding to the different source of variation in groundwater quality. The water quality of groundwater is influenced by both anthropogenic and chemical weathering. The most serious pollution threat to groundwater is from TDS, Cr6+ and Fe2+, which are associated with sewage and pollution of tannery waste. The study reveals that the groundwater quality changed due to anthropogenic and natural influences such as agricultural, natural weathering process. © Indian Academy of Sciences.

Kumar B.,Central Pollution Control Board | Sajwan K.S.,Savannah State University | Mukherjee D.P.,Central Pollution Control Board
Turkish Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences | Year: 2012

Concentrations of Cu, Zn, Mn, Fe, Cd, Hg and As in muscle tissue of fish species collected from North East coast of India were determined. The bioaccumulation of Fe, Zn, Cu and Mn was predominant followed by As, Hg and Cd in muscle tissue of coastal fishes. The concentration range of Cu, Zn, Mn, Fe, Cd, Hg and As in fishes was 0.5-28.2, 3.0-99.1, 0.5-12.0, 10.4-249.7, 0.01-1.10, 0.05-1.60 and 0.02-2.37 μg g -1 dry wt. respectively. The concentration of heavy metals was species specific and significantly different. Comparatively higher concentrations of heavy metals were accumulated in Trichiurus trichiurus, Pampus argentius, Harpadon nehereus and Arius sp. followed by Daysciaena albida, Formio niger, Hilsa ilisha and Rastrelliger kanagurta. The order of heavy metal concentration was observed as: Fe>Zn>Cu>Mn>As>Hg>Cd. The Pearson product moment correlation was calculated and most of the metals are correlated well. Concentration of Mn in fish tissue was higher than WHO/FAO guideline values, but other metals were lower than certified values. © Published by Central Fisheries Research Institute (CFRI) Trabzon, Turkey in cooperation with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan.

Metal contamination in a river has often been assessed based on total metal ion concentrations without relating them with the amount of suspended solids. This approach masks lot of important dynamics of metal ions in water. This is first time in India, a study has been undertaken to present how the level of metal ions in river water is influenced by suspended solids in response to spatial and seasonal conditions in Hugli estuary, India and to focus necessity of harmonizing science and policy. This study presented extent of metal pollution and distribution pattern over the stations, seasons, tides and depth. Major fraction of metal ions is associated with suspended sediments and discharges into the largest alluvial fan, Bengal fan, in the world. Enrichment factors indicated that major source of metal contamination is large influx of sediment due to strong natural activities and moderate anthropogenic activities over the years strong seasonal change, variable tidal energy level and irregular estuarine geometry play crucial role in maintaining metal concentrations in water column. Findings of this study would help to refine existing monitoring practice and to understand its importance in water quality management. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Trivedi R.C.,Central Pollution Control Board
Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management | Year: 2010

The Ganga is not only a holy river, but also a lifeline of a large population of India, as it covers more than 26% of the country's area in its basin in the north and drains 25% of the annual run-off. Fast urbanization, industrialization and steep demand for water have led to serious problems of water quality degradation. Water quality monitoring indicated that the river is polluted in some of the segments, the worst affected lying between Kannauj and Allahabad, approximately 350 km long. About 12,222 million litres per day (mld) of domestic and 2500 mld of industrial wastewater is generated in the entire basin, out of which about 2573 mld of wastewater is generated along its bank. Many of its tributaries are heavily polluted and the main water quality issues are, organic pollution indicated by BOD and pathogens indicated by coliform count. There is a fluctuating trend of water quality attributed to the flow conditions in the river which depend on rainfall and water abstraction. In view of water scarcity in the basin, it is very important that no wastewater be discharged into the river. There is an urgent need to augment water availability in the basin by rainwater collection, water conservation and environmental flow determination in various segments of the river affected by water abstraction. © 2010 AEHMS.

Kharat D.S.,Central Pollution Control Board
Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering | Year: 2015

Industries engaged in dyeing operation generate coloured effluent due to the presence of spent dyes. Adsorption is among the various treatment processes employed for removal of dyes from effluents. Activated carbon is mostly used as an adsorbent in the treatment process. Attempts have been made by researchers to use non-conventional, low-cost, naturally-occurring biomass as adsorbents, including fruit peals, seeds, leaves, bark, sawdust, straw, ash, sludge and others that are abundantly available. The literature indicates that the dye adsorption capacities of these non-conventional biomasses largely depend on the methods of processing and the types of dyes. This review highlights methods used to prepare the adsorbents, along with their adsorption capacity for removal of different dyes from effluents. © 2015, Assoc. Brasiliera de Eng. Quimica / Braz. Soc. Chem. Eng. All rights reserved.

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