Wednesday, October 26, 2016

ESCAPE - Study Links Hyper Tension to Air Pollution

People who live in areas with polluted air increase their risk for developing hypertension, a leading risk factor for the development of heart disease. Known as high blood pressure, the hypertension study is the largest of its kind to establish the deadly link. A recent study looked at hypertension in 41,000 people in five different countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Spain – for five to eight years. It is part of the long-term “Europe Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects,” known as ESCAPE, which focuses on health problems associated with pollution.

At the hypertension study, beginning in 2008, none of the participants reported having high blood pressure or taking medicine to control it. By 2011, 6,200 people reported having developed hypertension and started taking blood-pressure lowering drugs. Most lived in urban areas where air pollution is highest. Air pollution is measured in micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter. The researchers found that for every five micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter, hypertension increased by one-fifth or 22 percent in people living in the most polluted areas.

Epidemiologist Barbara Hoffmann, who works for the Center for Health and Society at Heinrich-Heine University in Germany and led the study, says many of these cases of high blood pressure could be prevented. “So this is a very important result if you can see that something that you can actually change. I mean we can actually reduce air pollution, can have such an influence on such an important health outcome,” said Hoffman. The findings were published in the European Heart Journal.

Read the full press release @ Voice of America

Improving Power Generation Efficiency in India

India, like any other developing country, cannot overlook the pivotal role of the power sector in fuelling its overall development. All other sectors require a constant and reliable supply of electricity for the economy to function and grow. What sets the country apart though is the fact that it is the fifth largest producer and consumer of electricity with a capacity of 302 gigawatts (GW). From a meagre 1,743 megawatt hour (MWh) in 1950-51, the gross electricity generation boomed to 278,733 MWh in 2015, yet India is not a power surplus country even in the present coverage where around 1/4th of its total population is still deprived of access to electricity.

Currently, the estimated average gap between supply and demand of electricity (peak demand) is about 14%. The transmission and distribution losses are estimated between 26% and 32%. With rapid urbanization and industrialization, this gap is bound to rise fast. The distribution of power generation through different sources, however, is uneven. The thermal power contribution to this is around 63%, followed by hydropower contributing around 25%. The share of nuclear power is the smallest with 3%, and the power generation through renewable sources contributes the remaining 9%. The distribution of power generation amongst various states and regions in India is also highly uneven.

One of the ways to improve the efficiency of an existing thermal power plant can be by reducing this consumption by installing latest technology and infrastructure. For e.g. ensuring that the plants are equipped with the variable frequency drive so that the plant uses less electricity while running on half-capacity mode. Thirdly, the maintenance time and volume needs to be cut down.

There are several areas on which to focus for e.g. reducing flue gas heat losses, improving the air pre-heater seal, optimization of turbine steam parameters and operation, using boiler feedwater pump turbine and flexible heat regenerative technology together with maintaining high efficiency. Moreover, appropriate IT organizational structure should be developed along with management information services (MIS). There is also an urgent need for the development of IT modules to cater to various functional requirements such as computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), materials and stores management system (MSMS), operation plant performance management system (OPPMS), business planning module, finance and accounting (F&A) and human resource development modules etc.

Promotion of energy conservation and increased use of renewable energy are the twin planks of a sustainable energy supply. In an article, titled 'Biomass gasi?cation for decentralized power generation: The Indian perspective', the authors Buljit Buragohain, Pinakeswar Mahanta, Vijayanand S Moholkar of the Centre for Energy, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, claim that the vast potential of biomass power remains almost unused, and there is an urgent need of utilization of this resource through more efficient technologies such as biomass gasi?cation. Likewise, there is a need for implementing newer fields of technological studies such as energy systems engineering work to provide a methodological scientific framework to arrive at realistic integrated solutions to complex energy problems, by adopting a holistic, systems-based approach, especially at the decision making and planning stage.

Read the full article @ Economic Times

Tezpur is the Among the Clean Cities

The small city of Tezpur in the tea region of Assam has become India’s cleanest city and its residents are breathing easier because of it. Here, since the last WHO air-quality report in 2014, PM10 pollution, caused by dust particles, has been reduced by close to 85 percent — a vast improvement in a country that has been focusing on rapid urbanization and industrial development. The residents of Tezpur have only themselves to thank for this. Over the years, they’ve been making conscious efforts to go green. Trees are being planted, waste is segregated into either organic and inorganic, trucks are being re-routed out of the city center, and residents are speaking up about their environment. But crucially, the local industry has cut back on or switched entirely away from coal to cleaner energy.

CNN’s “Eco Solutions” visited the Matiapahar tea plantation during the harvest season and witnessed the change first hand. Here, heavy duty machinery that had been powered by coal now runs on liquefied petroleum gas. Even though LPG is produced from fossil fuels, it produces virtually no particulate pollution compared to burning coal. In other words, it’s basically smoke free.

Arabhinda Bhattacharjyam, the manager at Matiapahar Tea Garden, tells us it’s a win-win for the environment, the workers inside the factory, and for the product itself. “We have used liquefied petroleum gas since 2002,” he says. “Now the quality of the tea is much better. Now we are selling good quality tea in the market.” With cleaner air, the quality of the tea improved and the price of tea jumped from 45 to 67 rupees per kilo – making LPG a sound environmental and business decision. In fact, the move has become so popular that 40 tea gardens in Assam have entirely dispensed with coal, using LPG as their main source of fuel. These efforts go beyond tea gardens. Stone cutting mills and waste paper mills, some of the main industries of Tezpur, have found ingenious ways of controlling air pollution. In the former, water is sprinkled every six hours to contain dust particles. In the latter, rice husks – which are locally available, 30 percent cheaper than coal, and do not emit a high amount of particulate matter – are being used as fuel.

Read the full article @ The Diplomat

Anti Fire Crackers Campaign in Delhi

Environment Minister Imran Hussain on Tuesday reviewed the action being taken by various stakeholder departments and agencies including the Environment Department, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Delhi Police, Licensing Unit, Petroleum & Exposure Safety Organization (PESO), District Magistrates/SDMs etc.

The review was conducted to make the 'Anti-Fire Crackers Campaign' successful, to control air and noise pollution effectively due to fire crackers during the forthcoming Diwali festival. The meeting was attended by senior officers of Environment Department and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) along with SDMs of all districts who are the designated authority as per notification under Noise Pollution Rules 2000 and also by Senior Officers of Delhi Police and PESO.

The Delhi Government has constituted 11 teams (district wise) headed by area SDMs and assisted by Executive Engineers (DPCC) to curb the sale of illegally imported/Chinese fire crackers in the market, which are the main source of spreading toxicity in the air during Diwali.

More @ India Today