Dust mitigation plan must for firms
Why in news?
The Environment Ministry has made it mandatory for companies seeking environment clearance to ensure that they put in place a dust mitigation plan.
- A study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and commissioned by the Delhi government reported, in 2015, that road dust, burning of biomass and municipal solid waste, constituted the lion’s share of the city’s air pollution.
- Road dust contributed 56% of all PM10 pollution, while it was 38% for PM2.5.
- Another estimate by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune had different numbers but still ranked dust as the major contributor — 52% — to the city’s PM10 load.
- Dust is a generic term for a vast mix of metals and non-metals — silicon, aluminum, titanium, manganese, copper, barium, antimony, selenium and zinc.
- Before PM2.5 became the focus of attention — for its role in lodging itself in the lungs and for being a key component of diesel emissions — dust was the key villain for a long time.
- The standards were developed by the Central Pollution Control Board as part of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), and will now empower the organization to fine companies and agencies for not complying with norms.
- The requirements, specified in a gazette notification on January 25, say that roads leading to or at construction sites must be paved and black-topped. There could be no soil excavation without adequate dust mitigation measures in place. No loose soil, sand, construction waste could be left uncovered. A water sprinkling system was mandatory, and the meaures taken should be prominently displayed at the construction site. Moreover, the grinding and cutting of building materials in open area were prohibited and no uncovered vehicles carrying construction material and waste would be permitted.
Main causes of air pollution in Delhi
The toxic levels of air pollution in and around Delhi is creating quite a menace. Adding to the severity, the changing weather conditions have locked the pollutants in the air and made the situation worse. Doctors are warning people of dire consequences and discouraging them from stepping outdoors. But what are the reasons behind this.
- National capital shares its border with the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. One of the main reasons of increasing air pollution levels in Delhi is crop burning by the farmers in these states. Farmers burn rice stubbles in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. It is estimated that approximately 35 million tonnes of crop are set afire by these states. The wind carries all the pollutants and dust particles, which have got locked in the air.
- Pollution caused by the traffic menace in Delhi is another reason contributing to this air pollution and smog. The air quality index has reached ‘severe’ levels. Vehicular emission is increasing the hazardous effects of air pollution and smog. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) have declared vehicular emission as a major contributor to Delhi’s increasing air pollution.
- As the winter season sets in, dust particles and pollutants in the air become unable to move. Due to stagnant winds, these pollutants get locked in the air and affect weather conditions, resulting in smog.
- Another reason of air-pollution is over-population in the capital. Over-population only adds up to the various types of pollution, whether it is air pollution or noise pollution.
- Investing less on public infrastructure is another reason of air pollution. In India, investment in public transport and infrastructure is low which leads to congested roads, and hence air pollution.
- Large scale construction in Delhi-NCR is another culprit that is increasing dust and pollution in the air. Considering the dipping air quality, a number of construction sites have stalled work, as directed by the Delhi Government.
- Industrial pollution and garbage dumps are also increasing air pollution and building-up smog in the air.
- Despite the ban on cracker sales, firecrackers were a common sight this Diwali. It may not be the top reason for this smog, but it definitely contributed to its build up.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued some guidelines to protect yourself against the hazardous impacts of smog and pollution
- Don’t step out or indulge in outdoor activities during early morning and evening hours due to “severe” levels of air pollution in the city.
- Try to stay indoors. Go out when it’s bright and sunny.
- Avoid stepping out if you have breathing difficulty.
- Keep children indoors as much as possible.
- Avoid smoking. Do not burn garbage.
- Drink adequate amount of water as it helps in flushing toxins from the body.
- Avoid strenuous activity, as they may lead to inhalation of minute pollutants.
- Eat fruits that are loaded with vitamin C, magnesium and omega fatty acids. These fruits are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and helps in boosting immunity.
Common ways of controlling road dust
- Reducing vehicle speed by posting speed limits of 5 or 10 km/hr
- Wet sweeping with water or chemical dust suppressants
- Combining wet sweeping with vacuum truck operations
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) requires that at a minimum the following information be provided in a Best Management Plan for fugitive dust
- Identify the sources of fugitive dust emissions within the facility
- Review the composition and size range of the fugitive dust (assessment of health risks)
- Describe how fugitive dust will be controlled from each identified source
- Contain a schedule by which the plan will be implemented
- Describe how the plan will be implemented, including training of facility personnel
- Describe inspection and maintenance procedures; and
- Describe methods of monitoring and record-keeping to verify compliance with the plan.