LSU Researcher Identifies Measures to Reduce Air Pollution in India

Veiw of India traffic and air pollution.BATON ROUGE – In a new report by a team of researchers led by LSU Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Hongliang Zhang, 13 measures are outlined that could reduce air pollution levels in India by 40 percent.

The report is a collaboration between researchers at LSU and Greenpeace, an international environmental organization. Joining Zhang were LSU students Hao Guo and Kaiyu Chen, Professor Jianlin Hu of Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Professor Qi Ying of Texas A&M University, Professor Sri Kota of the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, and Lauri Myllyvirta and Sunil Dahiya from Greenpeace. 

“We started the work in June 2016,” Zhang said. “Air pollution in India is severe but not much attention has been paid (to it there) compared to the U.S. and China. Greenpeace also wanted to investigate this and inform the public.”

Spurred by India’s need for a National Clean Air Plan, the team carried out an atmospheric modeling study that identified ambient air pollution sources and analyzed their contribution to pollution levels. Multiple sectors were targeted, including thermal power, manufacturing industries, household solid fuels, and crop burning.

The measures with the largest potential for air quality improvements are reducing emissions from thermal power plants, instituting strong emission standards for industry, reducing solid fuel use in households, shifting to zig-zag kilns in brickmaking, and introducing stronger vehicular emissions standards on an accelerated schedule. Each of these could prevent 80,000 to 180,000 deaths per year from air pollution.

However, implementing all 13 measures is necessary to achieve a 40 percent reduction in air pollution levels on a national scale. Additionally, further steps will be needed as PM2.5 levels—atmospheric particulate matter that has a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers and can bypass the nose and throat to penetrate the lungs—would remain at an unsafe number in large parts of the country.

“The study provides a comprehensive understanding of the sources, health effects and potential reductions of air pollutants in India,” Zhang said. “It also lists the benefits of different measures, so the policymakers can design strategies accordingly. Some measures are easier to (execute), but it may take three to five years for the adoption of policies from design to implementation. I hope they start working in five years.”


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