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Biomass Responsible for Delhi’s Poor Air Quality: IIT Research

Delhi was ranked the most polluted capital for the fourth consecutive year in 2021, according to the World Air Quality Report 2021

poor air quality

A study by IIT-Delhi researchers concluded that emissions from biomass burning, instead of fireworks, were responsible for poor air quality in the country’s capital in the days following Diwali.

A study titled ‘Chemical Speciation and Source Apportionment of Ambient PM2.5 in New Delhi Before, During, and After the Diwali Fireworks’ was published in the journal Atmospheric Pollution Research.

It was partially funded by IIT-Delhi and the Ministry of Education and was organized as a collaboration between IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kanpur and PRL Ahmedabad.

According to a statement from the institute, researchers found that the metal content of PM2.5 levels increased by 1,100% during Diwali and that fireworks alone accounted for 95% of the metal, but the effect of fireworks decreased within about 12 hours.

Talking about this project, Professor Vikram Singh, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Delhi said, “Both stubble burning and increased heating requirements of the region in winters drive the biomass burning activity.”

“The researchers have found that biomass burning-related emissions rise steeply in the days following Diwali, with average levels almost rising by order of around 2 compared to the pre-Diwali concentration. Also, the source apportionment results pertaining to the organic PM2.5 indicate a significant rise in both primary and secondary organic pollutants in the days following Diwali, suggesting the role of biomass-burning related emissions in the increase of primary organic emissions, and in turn, their aged products following the Diwali festival,” read a statement from IIT Delhi.

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