Cleaner Air

Cleaner Air

15 August, 2016
Fighting Pollution
CNN Programme 'Eco Solutions' explores cities' efforts to cleanup up their air pollution

Continual exposure to air pollution can have a big impact to the health of residence. With the relentless migration from rural to urban it is the air in our crowded cities which is becoming increasingly dirty. “Even though you don’t feel pollution day to day, it is an accumulative effect. Everyone is exposed to it. From your first breath to your last breath. But if you reduce it just a little bit, it can have a huge effect’ says Andrew Grieve, Senior Air Quality Analyst at King’s College in London. In its first episode, CNN's environmental show ‘Eco Solutions’ finds out what can be done to improve air quality and examines innovations in combatting air pollution in Tezpur, a small town in the Indian state of Assam.

India has four of the world’s top ten polluted cities. Yet, according to the same world health organization figures, some areas are progressing. After two years of effort to improve the area’s air quality, Tezpur is now entitled as India’s cleanest city. Meghnad Nath, member of Tezpur air pollution control board, says “We monitor the emission of gases from chimneys and make sure concentration levels are below national standards. The results show that the concentration of PM 10 is very low, therefore Tezpur is India’s cleanest city.” Another important change to the Indian rural scene is the change from using bamboo to using gas cylinders in households, which hugely reduce the amount of smoke projected into the air and improves people’s lives in the rural households.

Particulates 10 and 2.5 have both dropped in this region of Assam since 2014. Trucks have been rerouted out of the city center, residents are planting trees and crucially, local industries have switched from coal to cleaner energy, such as liquefied petroleum gas. Matiapahar plantation for instance has been using liquid petroleum gas (LPG) with their heavy duty machinery since 2002. Arabhinda Bhattacharjya, manager of the Tea Garden, says “The quality of tea is much better. Now we sell good quality tea at market.” The price of tea jumped from 45 to 67 rupees per kilo, making LPG a sound business decision as well as environmental choice of this corner of India. But what happens in other big cities around the globe?

In the second part of the show, ‘Eco Solutions’ looks at small projects underway in the large city of London to see how seemingly minor measures are also having some success in reducing harmful pollutants.

In January 2016, London took just over one week to breach its own annual limits of nitrogen dioxide. That is a toxic gas which comes from vehicle exhausts. Ruth Calderwood, volunteer as air quality wardens at City of London Corporation, says: “We see drivers who are parked with their engines idling as an unnecessary source of local pollution. So what we do is, we go out and speak to drivers, ask them if they can turn their engines off. We have evidence that it does make difference very locally.”

Andrew Grieve, who suffered from asthma as a child, is now a scientist who analyzes air quality. He built an app that helps people to avoid pollution hotspots in London’s city. Grieve says, “So here I’ve plotted a route from Liverpool Street station to Bank station. There’s a route here through the back streets, which is 28% less polluted than the highest one.” It’s inventors like Grieve, managers like Bhattacharjya and initiators like Nath who’s projects and efforts make a difference in the fight against pollution and develop a sense for the importance of the global climate.

CNN Eco Solutions can be found here:

By: CNN Eco Solutions


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