Breakthrough IIT Jodhpur Study Reveals True Causes of Air Pollution in Northern India


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A recent study by researchers from IIT Jodhpur, published in Nature Communications, reveals critical insights into the sources and composition of particulate matter (PM) in Northern India, posing severe health risks.

Local Combustion Processes Identified as Key Pollutants

Contrary to popular belief, reducing overall PM mass is not sufficient to mitigate health impacts. The study underscores the need to address local inefficient combustion processes, such as biomass and fossil fuel burning, to effectively reduce PM-related health risks.

Three Crucial Scientific Questions Addressed

The study answers three vital questions for policymakers to devise effective mitigation strategies under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):

  1. Identification of PM2.5 sources and their geographical origins.
  2. Clear distinction between directly emitted PM and those formed in the atmosphere.
  3. Correlation of PM’s oxidative potential with local and regional sources.

Advanced Techniques Reveal Regional Differences

Using advanced aerosol mass spectrometry and data analytics, the research was conducted across five Indo-Gangetic Plain sites. The study found that while high PM concentrations are consistent across the region, the chemical composition varies significantly due to local emission sources.

Associate Professor Dr. Deepika Bhattu, IIT Jodhpur

Health Risks Highlighted

The study highlights that organic aerosols from incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels are major contributors to PM’s oxidative potential, driving health effects in the region. The oxidative potential of Indian PM2.5 surpasses that of Chinese and European cities by up to fivefold, making it one of the highest globally.

Urgent Need for Collaborative Efforts

Dr. Deepika Bhattu, Associate Professor and lead author, emphasizes the need for collaborative efforts among local communities and stakeholders. Promoting cleaner energy, improving combustion efficiency, and reducing emissions from transportation are crucial for addressing India’s air pollution crisis.

Evidence-Based Policies for a Healthier Future

The study provides valuable insights for formulating evidence-based policies and interventions. Prioritizing mitigation strategies targeting local inefficient combustion processes is essential for safeguarding public health and the environment in Northern India.

Breakthrough IIT Jodhpur Study Reveals True Causes of Air Pollution in Northern India


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