What is the news?
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) appointed a joint committee to study air pollution in Kerala. It made several recommendations to improve air quality in Kerala.
What are the key recommendations of the panel?
- Installation of vapor recovery systems at fuelling stations
- Retrofitting of diesel vehicles with particulate filters to improve air quality.
- Reason: The petrol refueling stations are a major source of benzene emissions, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter 2.5. Hence, the installation of a vapor recovery system is an important step in improving air quality.
- Promoting battery-operated vehicles and banning old diesel vehicles in a phased manner.
- Greening of open areas and creation of green buffers along traffic corridors.
- Short Term Measures: The panel has also recommended several short term measures that include:
- Strict actions against visibly polluting vehicles (to be initiated by the Motor Vehicles Department)
- Introduction of Wet/Mechanised vacuum sweeping of roads,
- Controlling dust pollution at construction sites
- Ensuring transport of construction materials in covered vehicles.
About Benzene Pollution
- Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air.
- Source: Benzene is formed from both natural processes and human activities. Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. It is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.
- Uses: Benzene is a widely used industrial chemical. It is found in crude oil and is a major part of gasoline. It’s also used to make plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.
- Exposure to Benzene:
- Industrial processes: Benzene occurs naturally in crude petroleum. Thus, human activities using petroleum, lead to exposure. These activities include processing petroleum products, coking of coal, and their use in industrial and consumer products.
- Indoor residential air: In homes, benzene may be found in glues, adhesives, cleaning products, paint strippers, tobacco smoke, and gasoline. Levels are increased in homes close to petrol filling stations.
- Side Effects: Human exposure to benzene has been associated with a range of acute and long-term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer and hematological effects.
Source: The Hindu