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Vehicular emissions contributing half of PM 2.5 levels in Delhi


With the air quality of Delhi at its worst levels this year, the latest assessment by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has thrown more light on the sources of air pollution. According to the organization, almost half of the PM 2.5 pollution between 21 October and 26 October, can be attributed to vehicular emissions.

The report claims that when pollution from all sources is calculated, Delhi’s vehicles account for nearly 17% of the total PM 2.5 concentration, but the indicative data of the CSE suggests the vehicles’ daily share of PM 2.5 varied between 49.3% and 53% during the week of Diwali.

“The vehicular contribution was followed by household pollution (residential) at 13 percent, industries at 11 percent, construction at 7 percent, waste burning and the energy sector at 5 percent each, and road dust and other sources at 4 percent each. This observation is consistent with the trends evaluated during the previous winter in Delhi,” the principal program manager at CSE’s Clean Air and Sustainable Mobility unit Vivek Chattopadhyay said.

The CSE report which used the decision support system (DSS) of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), indicates that all combustion sources, such as vehicles, peripheral industries, the energy sector, waste burning, and residential cooking, have a higher share than dust sources such as construction and road dust.

“With high traffic on pre-Diwali days, average speed plummeted to 27 km per hour against the design standard of 60 km per hour or regulated speed of 40 km per hour. On some stretches, this reduced to 17 km per hour. Nitrogen dioxide coming largely from vehicles correlates well with traffic peaks and congestion through dispersion helped to dilute it in the afternoons,” the CSE assessment stated.

CSE also asserted that despite vehicles being the ‘top polluter,’ there is ‘weakest action’ on the transport sector, which is a matter of concern.

The organization further suggested public transport augmentation and integration, along with electrification of the fleet, walking and cycling infrastructure, low emissions zones, and vehicle restraint measures like parking caps and pricing.

With inputs from PTI.

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