Indoor Air Pollution In Delhi

Indoor Air Pollution In Delhi – Educational Institutions At Higher Risk

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi (Image credits: Vigyan Prasar)
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi (Image credits: Vigyan Prasar)

According to research performed by IIT-Delhi’s CERCA (Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air), academic institutions like colleges and schools in Delhi are leading the list for high PM (Particulate Matter). Inadequate ventilation and higher occupancy in restaurants, colleges, offices, and hospitals resulted in high carbon dioxide levels being recorded. Although a high occupancy was seen in schools, natural ventilation in all the examined schools ensured CO2 levels within the permissible limits, apart from 1-2. These permissible levels of CO2 are specified by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

A team of scientists from SIE (Society for Indoor Environment) and IIT Delhi’s CERCA collaborated with Kaiterra (a company for air quality instruments) to recognize the significance of IAP (Indoor Air Pollution) studies in the country, especially in Delhi, which leads the list of the world’s 20 most air-polluted cities. Therefore, the city’s various indoor environments had their air qualities mapped by this research team. Indoor Air Pollution in Delhi was studied by maximum air-polluted indoor environments of priority like hospitals, colleges, schools, offices, shopping malls, cinema halls, and restaurants. During the city’s crucial winter duration from October 15th, 2019, to January 30th, 2020, 37 of these buildings were examined.

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TVOC, PM2.5, and PM10 were among the observed indoor air-pollutants during the 24-hour observation period in these buildings. The indoor air quality was efficiently monitored using particularly developed premium quality air monitors that tested comfort parameters such as CO2 concentrations, humidity, and temperature.

During the study, physical attributes such as the buildings’ distance from roads with high traffic, printers, and photocopiers, functioning diesel generators, furniture, carpets, natural ventilation facilities like doors and windows, air conditioners, and air purifiers were noted. The Central Pollution Control Board sets the permissible levels for ambient air quality, which in India, according to 2009 NAAQS, is 60 μg/m for PM2.5 and 100 μg/m for PM10.

While studying the indoor air pollution in Delhi, the particulate matter concentration of both types was recorded to be 2-5 times greater than these levels. This means that all the examined buildings had 10-15 times higher levels when compared to WHO’s (World Health Organization) 2016 average limits for 24-hour air quality, which is 25 μg/m for PM2.5 and 50 μg/m for PM10.

Since we spend nearly 80-90% of our time indoors, these levels can have severe health effects—the WHO has regarded IAP to be among the 4 most crucial environmental issues affecting the world. Unvented biomass burning during cooking and heating has resulted in an approximate increase of 28% per year in total deaths (two million) and 39 million life-years adjusted to pollution-induced disability. Therefore, air pollution is a global problem that requires immediate attention.