New Delhi, Aug 26 (PTI) With less than one air quality monitor for a million people, India’s air quality monitoring system is woefully under-equipped to provide real-time information on air pollution in the country, experts said on Friday.
They said low-cost sensor technology could augment India’s critically low air quality monitoring systems, provided standards and protocols for both application and interpretation of data are established.
The experts converged at India’s first Air Sensors International Conference (ASIC India), organised as part of the India Clean Air Summit 2022 in Bengaluru.
Pratima Singh, who leads the Centre for Air Pollution Studies at the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy, said the critical shortage of air quality monitoring stations in India has resulted in a dearth of information on air pollution levels in the country.
“Although the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recommends four continuous monitoring stations per million population, we are woefully behind in meeting this target. Ideally, India needs at least 4000 monitors but has just 969 (as of 2020).
“Most of these are located in the Delhi-NCR region; most of north-east, central, and western India have very few monitors, and when they do exist, they tend to be concentrated in urban areas,” said Singh.
Sensors can help detect air pollution hotspots in different parts of the country, said Dr Singh, adding, “However, to use these effectively, we need to ensure access to information and awareness on the different types of sensors and how to interpret the data.” The CPCB and the Union Environment Ministry need to form a body of experts to develop processes for certifying sensors by putting in place standard operating procedures. The body must ensure that the data are interpreted and used correctly, she said.
Vasu Kilaru, Scientist, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the standardisation of sensors will ensure consistent data format and output, making it easier to integrate and enable easy dissemination and accurate interpretation.
Low-cost sensors have helped raise citizen’s interest in air quality, said environment activist and co-founder of Warrior Moms Bhavreen Kandhari.
“Sensor networks are like weapons. They make data accessible and help us engage with citizens to act against rising air pollution. Moreover, they help communicate science to citizens,” she added. PTI GVS SMN SMN
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