Air Pollution

Stubble burning doubles Delhi pollution: Harvard study


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulate matter

Mains level: The is an another proof showing the affect of stubble burning on Air Pollution.


Research by the Harvard University and NASA

  1. According to the study, agricultural fires are to blame for about half of the pollution experienced in Delhi in October and November, a peak stubble burning season in Punjab
  2. The researchers came to this conclusion by analyzing data from a satellite of the NASA
  3. the study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, used satellite data from NASA to identify hotspots corresponding to active fires

Source of this agricultural fires

  1. Many farmers in northwest India typically burn abundant crop residue on the fields after harvest season, to prepare their fields for subsequent planting

Pollution level in Delhi

  1. On average, without fires, urban Delhi experiences about 150 microgrammes per cubic metre of fine particulate air pollution
  2. To put that into perspective, the WHO puts the threshold for safe air at 25 microgrammes per cubic metre, and India’s Central Pollution Control Board limits exposure to 60 microgrammes per cubic metre
  3. Extreme fires during the post-monsoon season can pump on average about 150 microgrammes per cubic metre of fine particulate matter into the city,
  4. doubling the amount of pollution and increasing total levels 12 times higher than WHO recommendations, and even 20 times higher on some days

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