Bangaloreans have to live with a new threat. If you go by The Energy and Resources Institute’s (TERI) recent study on increasing ozone pollution across the country, tbe city is likely to be one of the worst affected.
Pollutants like nitrogen oxide gases (NOx) and NMVOCs (non-methane volatile organic carbon) that are emitted more from vehicular sources, react in the presence of sunlight to produce ozone at ground levels. It can have serious health impact and also damage agricultural yields.
Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Pune have very high NOx concentration because of rapid increase in vehicular traffic. This would mean high levels of ozone pollution. At present, ozone monitoring is being done only in Delhi, which shows that concentration has violated the standards, specifically during seasons of higher photochemical activity.
The report released by TERI and Toyota Motor Corporation on Tuesday in Delhi claims that ozone concentrations across the country could be very high by 2030. This is based on an assessment of the energy and emissions scenarios from 2005 to 2030 for various states and Union territories, based on the GAINS Asia model for pollutants like particulate matter, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen oxides.
Vehicles and DG sets are the largest contributors of NOx and hydrocarbons. “Bangalore could be particularly vulnerable because of the huge contribution of NOx from the vehicular sector. The city has already implemented the Bharat Stage IV norms which are the most advanced in the country. But it continues to have lots of old vehicles which are inefficient,” said Sumit Sharma, Fellow and area convenor, TERI.
Some solutions that can be implemented soon are reducing usage of vehicles, better land-use planning, having more advanced vehicular norms, banning older vehicles and bypassing of congested areas.
“Ozone monitoring hasn’t started in Bangalore but when it does, the figures are going to be very high,” added Sumit.
WHAT IS OZONE POLLUTION?
A gas is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogenoxide gases (NOx) experience chemical reactions. These reactions are triggered by exposure to sunlight and high temperatures. VOCs and NOx are emitted by cars, factories and numerous other human sources. Ozone pollution may start in urban areas with high concentration of human activity, but it can spread across vast distances.
Ozone pollution can cause serious irritation in the lungs and their premature ageing. Asthma can aggravate and it can lead to bronchitis, increased risk of respiratory infections as well as permanent lung damage if constantly exposed.