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New IIT-K study sheds light on air pollution sources, impact on health

A new research from IIT-Kanpur has identified major sources of air pollution along with the impact on health in North India

New IIT-K study sheds light on air pollution sources, impact on health
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New IIT-K study sheds light on air pollution sources, impact on health

Kanpur (UP), April 29: A new research from IIT-Kanpur has identified major sources of air pollution along with the impact on health in North India.

The study by Professor Sachchida Nand Tripathi of the Department of Civil Engineering and Department of Sustainable Energy Engineering, IIT-Kanpur, published in the journal ‘Nature Communications’ reveals that local emissions, particularly from incomplete combustion of various fuels, play a significant role in air pollution and associated health risks in the region.

While previous studies have highlighted the severity of air pollution in India, identifying the exact sources and their relative contributions has remained a challenge.

Prof Tripathi's team, in collaboration with national and international researchers, analysed air quality data from five locations across the Indo-Gangetic plain, including sites in and around Delhi-NCR, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issue, according to an official release.

Prof Tripathi said, "The crucial insights from our study into the sources of air pollution and their impact on health in northern India will help us to develop more effective strategies to improve air quality and protect public health. The study has led to a greater understanding of the dominant role played by local emissions and inefficient combustion.”

Inside Delhi ammonium chloride and organic aerosols from traffic, residential heating, and industrial activities are key contributors.

Outside Delhi emissions from agricultural burning and secondary organic aerosols formed from these emissions are more prevalent.

Contributing to the problem is the incomplete burning of fuels like wood, dung, coal, and petrol.

This creates harmful particles that can damage our lungs and cause various health problems. Regardless of location, the study identified organic aerosols from incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels as the major factor driving air pollution's oxidative potential – a key indicator of its ability to cause adverse health effects.

Prof. Tripathi explained further, “The oxidative potential refers to the free radicals that are generated when pollutants interact with certain substances in the environment or our bodies. “These free radicals can cause damage by reacting with cells, proteins, and DNA. Oxidative potential measures how likely air pollution is to cause this reaction, which in turn can lead to health problems like respiratory diseases, heart disease, and accelerated ageing.

“There is an urgent need to address this issue and reduce emissions through targeted interventions to improve combustion efficiency in various sectors.”

IANS
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